Finland calls for 3.5 bln euro investment in electricity networks

HELSINKI, March 20 Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:17am EDT

HELSINKI, March 20 (Reuters) - The Finnish government proposed on Wednesday a legal amendment requiring the country's utilities to invest up to 3.5 billion euros ($4.5 billion) to improve their electricity distribution networks over the next 15 years.

In the last few years many people in rural Finland have had to go without electricity for days due to power cables being cut when trees fall down in storms.

Economy minister Jan Vapaavuori said that electricity firms could upgrade their distribution networks for instance by putting cables underground or along roads or by building back-up connections.

He said the cost of electricity interruptions was estimated to be on the same level as the envisaged investment in the network improvement.

Finland's biggest utility, state-controlled Fortum , is reviewing its electricity distribution business. Sources said last week it has hired Citigroup and Danske Bank to explore a 5 billion euro sale of its distribution business in Finland and Sweden.

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