The Helsinki City Council on Wednesday unexpectedly voted in favour of a proposal to divest the stake of Vantaan Energia, an energy utility owned partly by the City of Helsinki, in the nuclear power plant project of Fennovoima in Pyhäjoki, North Ostrobothnia.
The vote went narrowly in favour of the proposal submitted by Emma Kari (Greens), with 39 votes for and 37 votes against.
Kari reminds in a press release that several shareholders have divested their stakes in the project funded by Fennovoima, a consortium of Finnish energy and industrial companies, and Rosatom, a Russian state-owned nuclear energy company.
“It has become the rule rather than the exception for nuclear power projects to overshoot their budget and timetable, and to exceed cost estimates. The electricity produced by Fennovoima after the completion of the nuclear power plant is unlikely to be competitive. It is questionable whether or not the project will be financially profitable for its owners,” she states.
The unexpected decision was met with joy especially by the Green League, even though it only guarantees that the issue will be brought to the City Council for a second vote after the new councillors have taken office in June.
“The decision is indicative of Helsinki's willingness to look forward and make decisions for the future,” writes Kari.
The joy may be short-lived also because the odds of a comparable proposal even being presented to the Vantaa City Council for a vote are slim. The City of Helsinki owns 40 per cent and the City of Vantaa 60 per cent of the shares in Vantaan Energia. Vantaan Energia with its roughly five per cent stake is the largest municipal stakeholder in Fennovoima.
Kari proposed that the capital offload its stake in the nuclear power project already in 2014, but the proposal ran into resistance among councillors representing the National Coalition and the Social Democrats.
A number of investors have withdrawn from the nuclear power project in recent years. Kestra Oy, an energy utility owned by Kesko, was granted a permit to revoke its commitment to the project by an arbitration court in January.
Kesko cited the financial, contractual and scheduling uncertainties associated with the project as the reasons for abandoning it in March, 2014.
The decision by the arbitration court may open the door also for other minority shareholders to withdraw from the project, predicts Kari.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jarmo Stenmark – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi