(Adds background from para 6)
HELSINKI Nov 30 An undersea power cable between
Estonia and Finland is expected to start commercial operations
next Wednesday, a week later than had been scheduled, an
official at power firm Pohjolan Voima (PVO) said on Thursday.
Due to delays in the testing process, the aim is now to
launch commercial operations of the cable on Dec. 6, PVO's head
of energy procurement, Risto Makinen, told Reuters.
The 350-megawatt, 105-km (65 miles) Estlink cable will be
the first link between the Baltic States and the joint Nordic
"The scheduled start of commercial operations was yesterday,
and we did not quite make it. But we have to remember that we
are striving for a world-record time here," Makinen said.
The cable project is being carried out by Nordic Energy
Link, in which Finland's PVO and Helsingin Energia jointly own
10.1 percent stake, with Baltic power companies owning the rest.
The project is unusual as a cross-border link in being an
entirely business-based enterprise. Finnish papermakers
UPM-Kymmene (UPM1V.HE) and Stora Enso (STERV.HE) own a combined
majority of PVO.
PVO has said the link is expected to have a limited impact
on power prices in the two regions, at least in the short-term,
but it should have a balancing effect. The direction of the
power flow through the two-way cable will be determined by the
price of electricity in the respective regions, PVO says.
The cable is in the short-term seen as politically
significant for the Baltic States, formerly part of the Soviet
Union, as it is the first direct link backing up Estonia, Latvia
and Lithuania with Western European power supply.
In the first phase, the cable will be used mostly to sell
Baltic power in Finland, but PVO has said this could change if
Lithuania needs imports after a planned 2009 shutdown of its
Ignalina nuclear plant.
The cable will act as a buffer until Finland's fifth nuclear
reactor is ready in 2010 and the cable's capacity will then be
sold to Finnish and Baltic grid operators.