Lithuania’s New Cabinet to Decide on Nuclear Power by May

Lithuania’s new government will decide by mid-May whether building a nuclear plant to replace the one that closed in 2009 is the best way to reduce reliance on Russian energy, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said.

The Cabinet, which took office last month, has until May 15 to present an energy-independence strategy to Parliament, Butkevicius told reporters today in Vilnius, the capital.

Since closing the Soviet-built Ignalina plant in 2009, Lithuania has had to import electricity from Russia, which is also its only source of natural gas. In a non-binding October referendum, voters in the Baltic nation rejected the previous government’s plan to hire Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. to build a 1,300-megawatt reactor in the town of Visaginas.

“A working group has been formed to calculate the costs of achieving energy independence both with and without a nuclear plant,” Butkevicius said. “We should have more clarity about the alternatives by the middle of March.”

The government remains open to further discussions with Hitachi and other potential partners if that proves relevant, he said. So far it hasn’t been in contact with Hitachi, he said.

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