ELECTIONS. Labour Party and Social Democrats debate on energy policy

DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

Representatives from the Labour Party and the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party (LSDP) met on LRT Radio in a discussion of energy policy. As has been typical for the LSDP in the electoral campaign, party member Benediktas Petrauskas focuses on the positives – decreasing heating prices and a continuing search for alternate cheap gas, furthermore noting that the Visaginas nuclear power plant project is not completely dead and buried yet. The Social Democrat viewpoint has been met with criticism from fellow coalition member, Vytautas Gapšys, representing the Labour party.

V. Gapšys expressed criticism for the idea of building a nuclear power plant, stating that it is only viable when the price of the energy produced would be competitive. The politician believes that currently it does not look like it would be, given the expected expenditures involved. He does agree that there is a need for increased power generation capacity domestically, but focuses on alternate sources such as hydro-electric power plants.

Social Democrat Benediktas Petrauskas assures that the idea of constructing a nuclear power plant in Lithuania is not dead and buried yet, but notes that the timing was lost, something that he blames on the Conservative cabinet failing to make the necessary decisions. The politician praised his party’s capacity to continue and conclude strategic projects in this term however. Petrauskas uses the conclusion of the liquefied natural gas terminal project as a case in point, stressing significant drops in natural gas prices and a 17.2% drop in electricity prices over the last two years.

The two politicians also found themselves somewhat at odds in discussing renewables with Petrauskas focusing on the benefits of wind power, albeit lacking the data to back up his stance and leaving it to specialists. Meanwhile Gapšys notes that the Labour Party focuses more on small hydro-electric power plants, rather than alternatives such as wind, solar or biofuel power plants. The Labour Party representative cites that similarly to building the nuclear power plant, the other renewables would fail to provide a competitive price on the electricity produced, focusing on ensuring the stability of electricity prices.

On the topic of heating, Gapšys once again focused on price points, noting that thanks to decreasing gas prices, there already is a decrease in price points. He stresses that if the international arbitrage over overpaid sums to gas providers had gone Lithuania’s way, gas prices could be reduced even further.

Meanwhile Petrauskas turned to numbers, citing a 27.8% decrease in heating prices over the last two heating seasons, with particularly high decreases in Kaunas at 38.2%. He linked this with Social Democrat policy. While old apartment block renovations have been something of a source of controversy, the Social Democrat cited this as another strength, with 1100 houses renovated over the last year. He notes that this is not only beneficial in terms of decreasing heating prices, but also improves the visual representation of cities.

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