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Lithuania Opens Gas Power Unit to Help Replace Nuclear Power

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Lietuvos Energija AB started operating a 455-megawatt combined cycle gas turbine at the Lietuvos Elektrine power plant, restoring some generation capacity that Lithuania lost by closing a nuclear plant in 2009.

The unit, which cost 1.3 billion litai ($490 million), can supply as much as a quarter of the Baltic nation’s electricity needs and will use one-third less gas to produce the same amount of electricity as existing units, the majority state-owned power producer said on its website.

Lietuvos Elektrine, situated near the town of Elektrenai, became Lithuania’s main electricity producer after the Ignalina nuclear plant was shut at the end of 2009. The Soviet-built Ignalina provided more than 70 percent of Lithuania’s electricity output and also supplied Latvia and Estonia.

“This new modern power plant will alleviate the impact of lost capacity in Lithuania and will support the creation of a secure and reliable power system in the region,” Nandita Parshad, Director for Power and Energy at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said in an e-mailed statement from London today.

International Aid

The EBRD supported the unit with a loan of 71 million euros ($92 million). The Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund, formed by the European Union and several donor countries in 2001 and managed by the EBRD, gave a grant of 168 million euros for the project, according to the EBRD.

“The new plant will drive forward important reforms in the Lithuanian power sector, leading to the formation of an open regional Baltic power market which is expected to become integrated with the Nord Pool market,” the EBRD said.

Iberdrola SA of Spain and Lithuanian partners built the unit with a gas turbine designed by General Electric Co., according to Lietuvos Energija. The company said it plans to produce 1.37 terawatt-hours of electricity during 2013, running the unit at highest capacity during summer months.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryan Bradley in Vilnius at bbradley13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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