Contrary to Russian President Vladimir Putin's claim on Tuesday that the Baltics' withdrawal from the BRELL energy ring will introduce an additional tax burden on their citizens, Taavi Veskimägi, CEO of Estonian transmission system operator (TSO) Elering, said that network fees will actually decrease as several investments can be made with the support of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
"In recent years, we devoted a lot of attention to the energy supply and energy security of the [Kaliningrad] region in general in relation to the EU's plans for the Baltic states' withdrawal from the Russian energy ring, among other things," Mr Putin said at the commissioning of the floating regasification terminal "Marshal Vasilevsky" on Tuesday. "As a matter of fact, it is their business; taxpayers' extra money will be invested in that."
According to Mr Veskimägi, however, Estonia's joining of the Continental European frequency band will actually reduce network fees, as a significant portion of investments, which would also have to be made if remaining a part of the BRELL system, can be made with support from the CEF.
"Thus, these expenses will not be part of the network fees for our consumers," he continued. "The two existing connections with Latvia have to be updated, and a third new connection must be built in Estonia for the synchronisation. The construction of the new connection began recently, and not one cent of Estonian consumers' money will be spent on this investment."
According to the CEO, thanks to the synchronsiation project, the old power lines from the Narva area that run to Latvia via Valga can be upgraded primarily with the help of EU funding, as a result of which their upgrading will be cheaper for consumers than if Estonian consumers alone had to shoulder the cost.
In the first stage of the synchronisation project, investments will be made that are necessary for strengthening the power network within the Baltic states. The three Baltic TSOs in October submitted a joint application to the CEF for €432 million, of which Estonia's share is €187.7 million.
"This money will be spent first and foremost on upgrading the two existing Estonian-Latvian connections," Mr Veskimägi explained, adding that the details of the second and third round of synchronisation investments would be determined later, as the content thereof has yet to be agreed upon.
The second stage of investments necessary for the synchronisation will include investments necessary for maintaining frequency, and the third stage will involve investments to be agreed upon in a future stage of the project, including investments necessary for connecting the Lithuanian and Polish networks.
Editor: Aili Vahtla