Abkhazian authorities want to lease part of the Inguri hydroelectric power plant. Opposition promises to prevent it
Leasing the Ingur plant
The government of the republic intends to lease three parts of the Inguri hydroelectric power plant complex that provides Abkhazia with electricity to a private company. The transaction must first be approved by the parliament, but the opposition promises to do everything possible to prevent this from happening.
The Ingur HPP is located in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and is the only joint Georgian-Abkhazian project. The plant’s 270-meter-high concrete dam is on Tbilisi-controlled territory, while the five generators are on Abkhazian-controlled territory.
According to a gentlemen’s agreement reached between the Georgian and Abkhazian sides after the end of the 1992-93 war, Abkhazia receives 40% of the total amount of generation produced by the Ingur HPP. And until 2020 this was quite enough.
But in recent years, illegal crypto-mining has increased the country’s electricity consumption from 2 to 3 billion megawatts. The resulting deficit is not even covered by the overflow provided by Russia.
Restoration of these three hydropower plants with a capacity of up to 40 megawatts each, which have been out of operation since the end of the war, can significantly improve the situation. The government says that it cannot restore them at its own expense.
But, according to the current legislation, private business can own hydroelectric power plants whose capacity does not exceed 5 megawatts. And despite the pressure of Abkhazian President Aslan Bzhania, the parliament is in no hurry to revise this rule. Moreover, in the summer of 2023, when there were rumors that the government intended to lease the overflow hydropower plants on preferential terms, the parliament played a proactive role, and now any lease agreement in the energy sector must be previously agreed upon.
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The Abkhazian opposition believes that if the authorities repair the overflow HPPs on their own, the republic will be able to avoid a deficit. Especially as, beginning in 2024, tariffs on electricity will increase, which means that investments in repairs will be profitable.
If the government leases out the hydropower plants, the opposition believes there is no guarantee that the energy generated by them will be used for the needs of the republic and not be sold somewhere else, for example to the owners of large mining farms.
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