Lithuania's decision to speed up synchronization of the country's electricity grid with continental Europe is a breach of the agreement signed with Estonia and Latvia, Taavi Veskimägi, head of the Estonian transmission operator Elering, said on Friday.
All three Baltic states are scheduled to synchronize from the BRELL grid, which connects Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, in 2025.
But due to the heightened security situation with Russia and Belarus, Lithuania's government wants to bring the process forward to the start of 2024.
Veskimägi said Estonia will not be ready to do so until 2025 at the earliest.
"The leaders of the Baltic States and Poland and the President of the European Commission signed an agreement in 2018 to synchronize the Baltic States with the electricity system of continental Europe by 2026. This is the agreement in force today," Veskimägi told ERR.
"Today, there is an agreement in force between the countries, and there is no other way for us to do anything other than to follow this agreement. Of course, all the other [options] can be considered, but as long as there is no agreement to the contrary, this agreement is valid."
On Thursday, the Lithuanian Parliament unanimously adopted amendments to bring the synchronization deadline forward by 18 months.
Veskimägi said this was driven by domestic politics and wondered if Lithuania now seeks to alter the original agreement.
He said synchronizing to the grid with Latvia and Lithuania through Poland had been a compromise in the first place, as Estonia had originally wanted to link up with the Nordic grid through Finland. An agreement was reached on the guarantee that all three countries did so at the same time.
"In principle, such a situation cannot arise where one party, second or a third party is going to do something solo. Proposals, such as the one proposed by the Lithuanian Parliament, can be discussed if one of the parties wants to, but as long as it is not agreed otherwise, the agreement will remain in force," Veskimägi emphasized.
The CEO said he speaks to his counterparts in Lithuanian and Latvian on a daily basis and the technical aspects are understood across all three TSOs.
"Our Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts are very clearly aware of all these risks at a technical level, but this is probably not a technical discussion. These discussions are probably more of a political nature, but why they are like that is something I can not expand upon here," he said.
Estonia cannot synchronize before 2025
Veskimägi said Estonia will not be able to disconnect from the Russian electricity grid until 2025 as the Estonian-Latvian connection needs to be completed first.
The three lines are currently under construction and the deadline has already been brought forward from late 2025 to the start of the year. The first has been completed.
"So from the beginning of 2025 at the earliest, we can start talking about the possibility of synchronization, both financially and technically, with the Baltic States. Obviously, any earlier deadline is unrealistic," he emphasized.
"We will certainly not propose to the Estonian government to do this before the beginning of 2025. This is, in our view, too high a risk to the electricity supply of Estonian consumers and potentially too expensive for Estonian consumers to pay."
Risks are greatest for Estonia
Veskimägi said Estonia, as the country furthest away, faces the biggest risks when synchronizing with continental Europe which is why it is important the Baltics act in unison.
"It can be the case that either everybody synchronizes or nobody synchronizes," he said. "The distribution of risks for faster synchronization within the Baltic states is not proportional."
He said a weak connection with Latvia would create a potential risk that Estonia may be separated from the other two countries. This could mean Estonia could not cover its own needs during peak demand in winter.
"We certainly cannot allow such a situation," Veskimägi said.
On May 12, the Prime Ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania met in Tallinn and said they will speed up the desynchronization from the Russian grid. However, a new deadline was not agreed upon at the time.
Editor: Helen Wright