Abkhazia: higher energy tariffs or blackout if electricity consumption isn’t reduced
Energy crisis in Abkhazia
Should Tbilisi supply breakaway region with free electricity?
In Abkhazia, on February 20, a schedule was introduced for the supply of electricity and water supply. The reason is the lowering of the water level in the reservoir of the Inguri HPP. The authorities of Abkhazia intend to import electricity from Russia, while 20% of the cost of supplies will have to be paid by the central authorities of Georgia.
Tbilisi motivates its decision by the fact that despite the fact that currently the jurisdiction of the central government of Georgia does not extend to the territory of Abkhazia occupied by Russia, Abkhazia, according to international law, is an integral part of a single Georgian state, therefore, accordingly, the political responsibility of the Georgian government is taking care of all its citizens equally.
“Since November, electricity from the Inguri HPP has not been supplied to the Georgian side. Since November, more than 95% of the generated electricity has been sent to Abkhazia, “Zviad Kilasonia, financial director of the Inguri HPP, told Georgian media on February 20..
According to Abkhaz sources, the February 20 power cut affected the operation of some hospitals, vehicles, and bakeries. At the same time, the separatist authorities say there are sufficient gas reserves in the region and that the cutoff of water and electricity will not affect the operation of schools and kindergartens..
About Inguri HPP
It is noteworthy that the construction of the largest hydroelectric power station in the Caucasus on the Inguri River, with a capacity of 1300 MW, is located both on the indisputable territory of Georgia and the breakaway Abkhazia. In 1992, an agreement was reached between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides on the distribution of electricity generation from the Inguri hydroelectric station in the proportion of 60% – to Georgia, and 40% – to Abkhazia. At the same time, according to the statements of both the Abkhaz and Georgian sides, in recent years Abkhazia has received much more than 40%, since over time the consumption of electricity in this region has increased by about ten times. So, in winter, according to Tbilisi, 95% of the electricity produced at the Inguri hydroelectric power plants and the Perepadnye hydroelectric power plants (which are part of the Inguri hydropower complex) has been consumed by Abkhazia for several years. According to official statistics, electricity consumption in Abkhazia is increasing by 5-9% annually.
Georgian power engineers explain such an increase in electricity consumption by the fact that subscribers in Abkhazia pay at least 15 times less per kilowatt of electricity than in the rest of Georgia (40 kopecks per kilowatt-hour of electricity), while – according to unconfirmed reports – only 30% of the population pays accounts. Also, another reason is that due to the cheapness of electricity in Abkhazia, there are at least three cryptocurrency mining farms..
Tbilisi claims that 220,000 residents of Abkhazia spend about the same amount of electricity daily as in Tbilisi with a population of 1.5 million, and that the Inguri hydroelectric power station costs the Georgian side a large amount annually – according to official data, in 2018, the loss amounted to about $ 13 million. At the same time, the Abkhaz side does not pay for either generation or repair of this hydroelectric power plant..
“It is too expensive”
MP from the opposition United National Movement party Roman Gotsiridze considers the approach of the Georgian authorities to the issue of electricity supply to the separatist Abkhazia incorrect. According to him, if Sukhumi does not start paying electricity consumption bills, as well as participate in paying for the repair of the Inguri hydroelectric power station, Tbilisi will eventually have to give up “charity” and build a new electricity generation facility in the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities..
“Tbilisi is solely involved in repair work and spends hundreds of millions on the rehabilitation of the Inguri hydroelectric power station, and also supplies the occupied region with free electricity. It simply cannot continue, we cannot afford it, even in the case of the best intentions, “Gotsiridze said in an interview with the Voice of America..
Political scientist Niko Toidze believes that the policy of the Georgian authorities regarding the occupied regions is subject to revision, as it is ineffective and ineffective. According to him, providing Abkhazia with free electricity is one of these wrong steps..
“One can argue about this endlessly. Of course, there is truth in the arguments of those who argue that in order to restore trust between peoples, it is necessary to show humanity, and that Tbilisi should take care of all citizens of Georgia, and so on, but on the other hand, in case of non-payment of bills, residents of other regions of Georgia have electricity just disconnect. And then why should we supply free electricity to the Russian military base located in Abkhazia? Can they pay the bills? ” – the expert asks.
According to Toidze, the Georgian authorities need to develop a new strategy for the occupied territories, or at least amend the existing one..
Recall that as a result of the Russian-Georgian war, Russia in 2008 recognized the independence of two Georgian regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – and transferred additional troops and weapons to its military bases in these territories. All states of the world – with the exception of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria – consider these regions as the territory of Georgia under Russian occupation..