Lithuanian Premier Says New Nuclear Plant Isn’t Current Priority

Lithuania, which is deciding whether to build a new nuclear plant, should give priority to other energy projects, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said.

“We’re already working on several hugely expensive energy projects and there are limits to how much we can manage,” Butkevicius said today on Ziniu radio. “I lean to prioritizing other efforts that offer bigger benefits relative to the cost.”

The Cabinet that took office in December must propose an energy-independence strategy to Parliament by May 15. Since closing the Soviet-built Ignalina nuclear plant in 2009, Lithuania has had to import electricity from Russia, which is also its only source of natural gas.

In a referendum in October, voters rejected the previous government’s plan to hire Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. to build a 1,300-megawatt reactor in the town of Visaginas.

The priorities by 2015 are to complete the construction of a liquefied natural-gas terminal on the Baltic Sea and power links to Sweden and Poland, as well as to improve the efficiency of the heating industry, Butkevicius said.

A final decision on whether and when to build a possible new nuclear plant will be taken based on detailed cost-benefit calculations being prepared by a working group, he said.