Lithuania to Renew Nuclear Talks With Hitachi, Baltic States

Lithuania will renew talks about building a nuclear plant with Hitachi Ltd. as well as other Baltic nations Latvia and Estonia, seeking ways to make the project cheaper, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said.

“The current Visaginas nuclear power plant project, as its terms stand now, is too expensive for Lithuania,” Butkevicius said today, according to a statement e-mailed by his office in Vilnius. “Continuing it is only possible if the commercial terms are improved and other conditions are met.”

Lithuania, which isn’t connected to European Union energy grids, relies on imports of Russian power and gas, particularly since closing the Soviet-built Ignalina nuclear plant in 2009. The Cabinet, which took office in December, must propose an energy-independence strategy to Parliament by May 15.

If regional partners and Japan’s Hitachi, the strategic investor, prove willing to compromise, the nuclear plant would be a complement for power links that Lithuania is building with Poland and Sweden to reduce dependence on imported Russian electricity, Butkevicius said in the statement.

He spoke after meeting with an energy-strategy working group led by Energy Minister Jaroslav Neverovic, which will present its findings to heads of the four coalition parties this evening and to Parliament on Thursday, Butkevicius’s spokeswoman, Evelina Butkute-Lazdauskiene, said by phone.

The working group recommends continuing the Visaginas project only if regional partners sign a contract committing to share costs and responsibilities, and if together with the strategic investor they can help get cheaper financing, according to the statement.

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