UES' Chubais pours cold water on mooted electric link to Finland

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MOSCOW, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - The CEO of Russian electricity monopolist Unified Energy Systems Tuesday blasted a project to build an under-water electric power link to Finland as unrealistic and economically unviable.

The project would see construction of two on-shore converter stations and installation of a 150-km (93-mile) cable network across the floor of the Gulf of Finland to supply the Scandinavian state with up to 8.7 billion kWh of electricity annually.

But Anatoly Chubais told an investment conference in the Russian capital: "I believe the project to lay the cable [from Russia to Finland] is senseless and unrealistic. Neither the Leningrad nuclear power plant, nor UES have enough power resources in Russia's northwest [to implement the project]."

The Leningrad nuclear power plant, located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) west of St. Petersburg, has four energy units with capacity of 1,000 MW each. Plans have been put forward to build a thermal power plant in the region for the project.

Chubais also said he believed the proposed link project - which would cost an estimated 300 million euros ($379 million) and would bring about 117.2 million euros ($148 million) a year in revenues - was economically nonviable.

Receipts from electricity exports to Finland are expected to be invested in improving safety at NPPs and in alternative energy sources.

The project, to be implemented by Baltenergo, a Leningrad NPP subsidiary set up in 1998, and United Power - a joint venture co-owned by Baltenergo and Finnish energy and investment companies - is in line with Russia's energy strategy for 2020, which aims to improve nuclear security and expand into global energy markets.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, in May welcomed the project as viable, but said a thorough analysis still had to be made.

Finland's Industry and Trade Minister Mauri Pekkarinen said earlier that his ministry would make a final decision on the project in early September.

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