"Companies have not invested enough for Lithuania to comply with the requirements. Also, that would put a very heavy burden on consumers. It could be spread over a longer period of time," he told BNS.
Sekmokas said that if companies rush to invest, their investments may fall on consumers' shoulders. The minister added that he doubts if they will manage to make the required investments in new installations by 2016.
"If we had a longer period of time, we would reduce the burden for consumers or look for other solutions. Companies are not ready for this today," he told BNS.
Sekmokas said that these are the arguments why the Energy Ministry has changed its opinion and now proposes that the government go to the European Commission for an exemption from tighter industrial emissions rules effective from 2016.
The Cabinet is to return to the issue of whether or not to seek such an exemption and draw up a transitional national plan.
Officials say that this would provide a four-year transitional period to four power plants that do not meet the requirements. However, it is doubted if Lithuania would meet the January 2013 deadline for submitting its transitional national plan to the European Commission for approval, set by the directive, because the necessary procedures have not yet been launched.
It is also said that even if Lithuania asked for such an exemption, the EU's executive body might refuse to grant it.
Gazprom-owned Kauno Termofikacijos Elektrinė (Kaunas Combined Heat and Power Plant, or KTE) intends to invest in new biofuel-fired cogeneration units after its planned acquisition by Clement Power Venture, a US-registered company owned by Lithuanian businessman Rimandas Stonys.
Meanwhile, Dalkia-owned Vilniaus Energija (Vilnius Energy) is planning to close down CHP Plant No. 3, which is one of the country's largest facilities of its kind, in early 2016.