By Andrius Sytas

December 14, 2015

Lithuania officially opened new electricity links to Sweden and Poland on Monday and said the Baltic states aimed to fully synchronise their power grids with the European Union within a decade.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been members of the EU and NATO since 2004 but the power grids in the three former Soviet republics are still integrated with the electricity systems of Russia and Belarus.

“We will seek to finish synchronisation of the Baltic States and continental European networks by 2025,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said after meeting his Latvian and Estonian counterpartson Monday.

The Baltic states are planning to conduct a study to find out which synchronisation option is the best, officials said.

One option is to synchronise with continental European via Poland, provided a second power link is built. Another option would be to synchronize with the Nordic countries via Finland.

The two new links launched on Monday will help Lithuania, which imports about two-thirds of its electricity, diversify its power supplies while also strengthening Poland’s energy security, EU Energy Vice President Maros Sefcovic said.

Prime Minister Butkevicius also said power prices in Lithuania were expected to decline by 10-15 percent thanks to cheaper imports from Sweden, helping consumers to save about 90 million euros ($99 million) next year.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said the new link would help cut carbon emissions. The government is scrapping gas power subsidies next year in anticipation of cheaper imports from Sweden, which generates most power from hydro and nuclear.

While electricity is already being traded on Lithuania’s link to Poland, testing of the Swedish interconnection has been put on hold due to a fire at a converter station in Sweden.

Mikael Odenberg, CEO of Swedish grid operator Svenska Kraftnat, said Swiss engineering company ABB, which built the cable, has been working intensively to resume testing.

“As far as I can understand, it is not a very huge problem, but it is a problem and it has to be addressed,” Odenberg told reporters in Vilnius.

Daivis Virbickas, CEO of Lithuanian grid operator Litgrid, said the cable should be available for the market in the first half of January. ($1 = 0.9070 euros) (Reporting by Andrius Sytas; editing by Nerijus Adomaitis and David Clarke)