Dabar populiaru
Published: 5 march 2012 12:18

Rimvydas Valatka: Energy Minister's nuclear fantasies

This year's Valentine's day deserves an entry in gold letters in the history of Lithuania. Not because it was on Valentine's day that state leaders started blowing bubbles of the FCIS soap opera, pushing Arvydas Sekmokas, Lithuanian Energy Minister and character of numerous past and future melodramas, off the centre-stage.


Undeservedly. On this day of lovers, while another minister Raimundas Palaitis, having forgotten the 'love thy neighbour' motto, was scalping Gen. Vitalijus Gailius, Sekmokas announced the Good News. That the cost of a kilowatt-hour of electricity produced in the future nuclear power plant in Visaginas will not exceed 10 cents.

Let's remember this figure. It is roughly what cost us to produce one kilowatt-hour in the good old Russian power plant. Behold – upon Sekmokas' grace, the golden age comes back to Lithuania, Japanese style.

Hearing this, one of the three greens that we have could not get his breath back, like some junior centre-forward who's been punched by an old ace. And when he finally did get his breath back, what came out was that the Minister had probably confused Lithuanian cents with euro cents. The greens work for Russia, Sekmokas nonchalantly returned the blow to enemies of nuclear progress.

However, professor Jurgis Vilemas, probably the most authoritative nuclear energy specialist in the country, said the same thing: “A cost as low as this would only be possible if someone donated us a nuclear plant with all the fuel it requires.”

Even though Japan is closing down its reactors, I haven't heard of “Hitachi” promising Kubilius a 18-billion Christmas present. So how could the Minister challenge the professor's objections?

Well, in a very simple way. In a Conservative way. All Sekmokas has to do is to announce that professor Vilemas works for the Social Democrats. And Social Democrats, as is well-known, are former Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party (LDDP). And that lot is nothing but communists who have slightly altered their spots. And who were the communists, not even thirty-year-olds can remember anymore – so what are we talking about here? Jurgis Vilemas' reputation is a good as dead.

Such economic arguments have worked for the Conservatives for twenty years – if not to kill their opponents, then at least to appease the pious crowd of half-wits who have guaranteed the party five consecutive terms in the Parliament, with no indication that the sixth might be any different.

And yet, let us pause for a moment. The above-described was the case until last Wednesday. Until deputy-head of Central Bank Raimondas Kuodis said on the radio: “Electricity cost of 7-10 cents in Visaginas nuclear plant is a misunderstanding.” The same Kuodis who put together the action plan for Prime Minister Kubilius' back in 2008. The same guy whom President Grybauskaitė promoted to Central Bank's deputy head. Could the Conservatives call Kuodis a commie or a Moscow spy? That would be too far-fetched even for Minister Sekmokas.

So that even the Minster of Energy understands, Kuodis specified that we could hope for a 7-cent a kilowatt-hour electricity in 2040 at the earliest: “The bulk of electricity cost consists of capital expenditure. The cost will be closer to 30 cents. Electricity could cost 7-10 cents only in 2040, since it will take ten years to build the power plant and we will have to pay for capital expenditure for another twenty.”

Shut up for all Eternity, Mister Sekmokas? No chance. Opium for the people still costs relatively cheap. As long as so many in the nation believe in the Conservative Holy Trinity, Sekmokas' rosy dreams will sell.

Temos: 1 Rimvydas Valatka
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