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by Euro Reporter
2011-12-28 09:53:16
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Storm Dagmar cuts power, causes damage across Nordic region

The storm Dagmar lashed the Nordic countries with Hurricane-strength winds, cutting power and Norwegian natural-gas exports as it damaged buildings, shut roads and halted train traffic. About 264,500 homes in Finland, Sweden and Norway were without electricity as utilities such as Vattenfall AB worked to restore power after the storm yesterday toppled trees and damaged lines, according to estimates today by companies and grid operators.

In Finland, the number of those blacked out has increased as winds have picked up again, leaving 190,500 customers at Fortum Oyj, Vattenfall and Savon Voima Oyj without electricity, the utilities said. Some failures may last for days, Fortum said. In Sweden, about 44,000 homes were without power as of 2:33 p.m., according to a compilation from the three-largest utilities, including Vattenfall and EON AG. The storm is causing the worst outages since the Janika storm in November 2001, said Heini Kuusela-Opas, a spokeswoman for Vattenfall in Finland, by phone today.

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Economy may be in recession


Finland may have entered a recession, the Finance Ministry said, cutting its forecast for growth in the northernmost euro member’s economy. Gross domestic product will expand 0.4 percent next year, compared with growth of 1.8 percent forecast in October, the Helsinki-based ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. “The forecast contains the possibility of the economy experiencing a recession in late 2011 and early 2012,” the ministry said.

AAA rated Finland, which sells 40 percent of its output abroad and a third of that in the euro area, is vulnerable to the sovereign debt crisis that damps growth in the region. The Nordic country’s budget deficit will widen to 1.4 percent next year and 1.5 percent in 2013 from 1.2 percent in 2011, and debt as a share of GDP will rise to 54 percent by 2013 from an estimated 49.4 percent this year, the ministry said. “The slowdown of growth will add to imbalances in the Finnish economy,” the ministry said. “In this situation it’s essential that measures are put in place to foster market-driven growth.”

The recovery of growth to 1.7 percent in 2013 “depends largely on domestic demand,” the ministry said. The ministry’s 2012 GDP growth estimate matches last week’s forecast by the Bank of Finland. Weakening growth means Finland’s government must make “substantial” spending cuts and increase taxes to bring finances onto a sustainable footing, the central bank said on Dec. 15. “If these steps are not taken in time, we could end up in a situation where we are forced to rapidly reduce the general government deficit at a time when economic growth is weakening,” Governor Erkki Liikanen said. “The deteriorating economic outlook puts Finland’s public finances in a different light.”

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Finland's Olkiluoto 3 reactor delayed to Aug '14


Finland's Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor will not be ready for electricity production until August 2014, utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said on Wednesday, confirming the latest delay for the controversial reactor site. The 1,600 megawatt Olkiluoto 3 plant, Finland's fifth nuclear reactor, was originally scheduled to start operations in 2009 but has been hit by repeated delays. TVO warned in October that construction delays may push back operations to 2014, blaming its supplier consortium Areva Siemens .

TVO and Areva Siemens blame each other for the delays and higher-than-planned costs. They have taken their dispute over payments to the International Chamber of Commerce. The reactor is the first of its kind, with a double containment building, a compartment isolating the molten core, six back-up diesel generators and four back-up cooling systems which Areva says would have withstood the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan's Fukushima plant in March. TVO and Finnish nuclear consortium Fennovoima are planning to build Finland's sixth and the seventh reactors in the next decade and are expected to choose new contractors in the coming years.



  
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