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Lithuania, Sweden to build power link

April 27, 2009 - The Associated Press

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- The prime ministers of the three Baltic countries agreed Monday to build an underwater power link between Lithuania and Sweden, ending a long-running dispute about the cable's route.

For years, Latvia and Lithuania had argued over which of them should have the euro435 million ($570 million) link under the Baltic Sea. The two Baltic countries don't have any direct connection to European power networks, unlike Baltic neighbor Estonia, which is linked to Finland's grid.

"I am very happy that we were able to find a solution and opened way for this project, which is so important for our countries," Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius told reporters after the signing ceremony.

The 215-mile (350-kilometer) cable, expected to go online in 2016, is especially important for Lithuania, which fears dependency on Russian energy once it closes its Soviet-era nuclear power plant at the end of this year.

The three Baltic countries and the European Union will finance the project. Construction must begin by the end of 2010 under the terms of the deal. The EU has pledged 175 million euros ($240 million) to the project.

European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs welcomed the deal, saying it "will create opportunities for Baltic and Nordic states to trade electricity on the European market."

The power bridge is expected to have a capacity of 700-1,000 megawatts.