Officials in Sokhumi have imposed restrictions on power supply as water level in the Enguri dam has neared its critical point, apparently caused by rainfall shortages and hike in power consumption in Abkhazia.
Chernomorenergo, the company that manages electricity distribution in Abkhazia, announced three-hour power cuts per day on February 19 to avoid total shutdown of the Enguri Hydropower Plant (HPP), Abkhazia’s main electricity supplier.
According to the company, the water level in the reservoir is at 434 meters above sea level, close to its critical point of 420 meters below which the power generation will stop.
“The restriction will be in place until the deficit is covered by electricity supply from the Russian Federation,” reads its statement.
Head of the Chernomorenergo, Aslan Basaria, told the Sokhumi-based Abaza TV on February 14 that talks with Moscow were underway to help the region prevent complete power outage.
Levan Mebonia, Head of the Enguri HPP confirmed to Civil.ge that Chernomorenergo, together with Georgian authorities, is in talks with the Russian Federation on securing additional electricity supply.
Mebonia added that current water capacity will be sufficient for next 15-20 days only. He also said that if rainfall and snowpack levels remain low in coming days, Sokhumi will have to increase the duration of daily blackouts.
Abkhazia fully relies on electricity generated by the Enguri hydropower plant, whose 271.5-meter-tall concrete arch dam is located on the Georgian-controlled territory, and its five generators are on the Abkhaz side in Gali district.
According to a long-standing, informal agreement between Tbilisi and Sokhumi, 40% of the electricity generated by the plant has to go to Abkhazia and the remaining 60% to the rest of Georgia. But Abkhazia’s increased power consumption in recent years has switched the balance in favor of Sokhumi, and as of 2019, around 48% of electricity goes there, while 52% to Georgia proper.
In 2017, Georgia distributed 2,002 million kWh electricity to Abkhazia, 15.3% of Georgia’s overall consumption, according to Georgia’s Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission’s report. In 2016 and 2015, Abkhazia was supplied with 1,927 million kWh electricity (17.5%) and 1,797 million kWh electricity (17.3%) respectively.