March 8, 2012 / 4:00 PM / 8 years ago

Baltic PMs seek nuclear plant deal by June

* Baltic PMs reaffirm support for nuclear plant

* Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy to supply 1,300 MW reactor

* Want concession agreement signed in June

By Nerijus Adomaitis

VAZGAIKIEMIS, Lithuania, March 8 (Reuters) - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia gave backing on Thursday for energy companies to wrap up talks by June on a new regional nuclear plant, set to cost up to 6 billion euros ($7.9 billion).

The countries also left the door open for Poland to take part in the project, which involves Lithuania leading the building of a 1,300 megawatt ABWR nuclear power plant by 2020 with Japanese-U.S. alliance Hitachi-GE Nuclear .

All three Baltic states are keen to reduce their reliance on Russian sources of energy.

“The prime ministers encouraged the companies to finalise the negotiations in a timely manner, to reach signature of the concession agreement by June 2012, which would enable the process to move to the next stage,” a joint statement said.

The companies involved are Lithuania’s Visagino Atomine Elektrine, Latvia’s Latvenergo and Estonia’s Eesti Energia.

The concession agreement is set to be signed by the Lithuanian government and Hitachi on the firm building the plant and running it for a certain period of time.

The three leaders said they hoped the European Commission would back the project, allowing them to seek funding from European financial institutions.

“This is a really important regional and political project, but this project has to be profitable in a business sense,” Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip told a news briefing.

Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said the price of power from the plant must be competitive in the Nordic market. “The indications we have received show this goal is well within reach,” he added.

Estonia is already a part of Nord Pool Spot. Lithuania and Latvia plan to join later this year.

Ansip said Estonia expected to get 300 MW from the new plant to cut the future cost of carbon emissions. Latvia aims for 270 MW, officials said.

Polish utility PGE last year suspended participation in the project as Poland eyed its own nuclear plant.

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