TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia may have its electricity supply cut off because of low water level at the Enguri Dam, which straddles the de facto border.
Since January 25, Abkhazia’s electricity supply has been cut off 2 hours a day and 2-3 hours per night.
Deputy Energy Minister Mariam Valishvili told DF Watch that Enguri and Vardnili power stations will supply Abkhazia for another 10 to 14 days. The Abkhazian side is aware of the impending cut-off and work is in progress to prevent the population there from losing their electricity supply.
Valishvili said the reason for the cut-off is a combination of less rain last summer and increased power consumption in Abkhazia.
“For several weeks, Abkhazia has been on a special [power rationing] schedule. Even with the schedule, water supply is not enough [to last] until the rainy season in March-April,” she said, adding that this year Abkhazia has witnessed that the power is ineffectively managed and Enguri and Vardnili aren’t producing enough to meet demand.
Georgia exports power to Abkhazia for free, except in winter, when Georgia imports most of its electricity from Russia.
DF Watched asked Valishvili whether Georgia plans to start charging for the electricity exported to Abkhazia. She answered that the government is considering it.
“For quite a while, we have been discussing bringing in tariff for Abkhazia. They don’t have other resources than Engurhesi and Vardnilhesi. This is why it is necessary to install meters, sort out the accounting process and establish a payment system,” she said.
Levan Mebonia, director of the Enguri power station, told Resonance Daily that 90-100 percent of the electricity from Enguri and Vardnili are exported to Abkhazia, especially in winter.
In November, the two dams produced 193 million kWh, 178 out of which was consumed by Abkhazia. In December, the two dams produced 248 million kWh, and 232 of this was consumed by Abkhazia.
Interpressnews quoted the head of the Georgian Energy Academy as saying that since Enguri power station is about to run out of water, it would be most reasonable that Abkhazia gets its supplies from Russia.
Enguri hydro power station is located partly on Abkhazian territory. The dam itself is on Georgian-controlled territory, while the electric station is on the Abkhazian side. The two sides manage the installation together and share the electricity that is generated.
The 271 meters tall dam is one of the world’s tallest concrete arch dams and was given heritage protection by Georgia last year. Construction of the dam started in 1961. The power station was closed for several months last year due to maintenance.