Abkhaz officials given 1 week to rectify energy crisis – 'or else'
Abkhazia is experiencing an acute energy crisis as a result of cryptocurrency mining, and rolling power outages for long periods of time have become the norm.
Despite all the efforts of the authorities, it has not been possible to solve the crypto mining problem. President Aslan Bzhania gave officials exactly one week to bring the country’s energy consumption to the same levels as one year ago. Otherwise, he will fire them.
Due to overloaded power lines, almost all over Abkhazia, the lights are turned off several times a day. In some places for more than ten hours a day.
With Enguri hydroelectric power station being shut down for reconstructions for at least 100 days, Abkhazia will be importing electricity from Russia.
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Since January 20, the only source of electricity supply in Abkhazia was the Enguri hydroelectric power station, which is currently undergoing repairs that will last until the end of April.
Throughout this period, Russia will supply Abkhazia with electricity. However, the volumes of electricity that Russia promises to provide during the idle time of the Enguri HPP (800 million kW) is clearly insufficient for Abkhazia based on the existing consumption levels.
The head of the energy company Chernomorenergo, Mikhail Logua, believes that Abkhazia needs at least another 150 million kW. Logua said that there is no way to obtain more electricity, which is why it is necessary to save energy as much as possible.
Electricity consumption increased by 21% compared to 2019. This means that even before the Enguri HPP was shutdown, 40% of the energy that it generated for Abkhazia was not enough for the republic. The main reason for the sharp increase in energy consumption is cryptocurrency mining, as illegal crypto farms consume huge amounts of electricity.
The Abkhaz authorities banned crypto mining at the end of 2018. However, this did not bring results, and consumption only increased. Then it was decided to legalize it and to take control of electricity consumption. This measure also failed.
Due to the shortage of electricity and overloaded power lines, President Aslan Bzhania has instructed each district to create headquarters under the leadership of the heads of regional administrations. These headquarters should also include a district prosecutor, a police chief, and a power engineer.
“If by next Friday, a steady trend towards a decrease in consumption to the consumption levels of 2019 plus 5% is not observed in the districts, all members of the headquarters will be severely reprimanded, and next Monday they will be fired. It is wrong to assign the solution of this problem only to the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. All heads of village administrations know who is doing this. Within a week, you must take control of the situation”, Aslan Bzhania said.
In addition, as per the president’s new initiative that will be submitted to parliament on Monday, the Code of Administrative Offenses will be amended. A new fine will be introduced, and 1 megawatt of illegally consumed electricity will be fined 1.5 million rubles (about 20,000 US dollars).
Moreover, repeated violations will be punished by the confiscation of property, and custodial sentences are being deliberated too.