Among initiators of the referendum is the Green Policy Institute headed by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė's former spokesman Linas Balsys. Grybauskaitė supports the new nuclear power plant project.
Initiators say the commission will discuss their application on 20 March and, in case of a favorable decision, the group intends to start collecting signatures by the end of the month. Under Lithuanian law, initiators of a referendum must collect at least 300,000 voter signatures within three months.
The public environmental organization has spoken against the construction of a new nuclear power plant, saying Visaginas utility would not ensure energy safety, prevent development of alternative energy sources. The institute also questioned economic details of the project.
"Therefore the final decision on the nuclear power plant should not be made by a group of ruling politicians but by all citizens of Lithuania," the institute's vice-president Rimantas Šerkšnas said in the communiqué cited by the initiators.
Together with Latvia, Estonia and Poland, Lithuania plans to build a new nuclear power plant next to the existing Ignalina utility, which was brought to full stop in late 2009. Construction of the new plant should start in 2014, and the utility should start operation in 2020.