Russian-backed Abkhaz authorities imposed restrictions on power supply in the occupied region due to a hike in power consumption caused by “massive illegal connections to power grids.”
Chernomorenergo, the company managing electricity distribution in the region, on November 15 announced two-hour power cuts three times per day to avoid a total shutdown of the Enguri Hydropower Plant (HPP), Abkhazia’s main electricity supplier.
Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania told journalists on November 17 that the region might stay without electricity if they do not take undesirable, yet necessary measures.
Power shortages have lately been prevalent in occupied Abkhazia, where the problem is among others connected to illegal cryptocurrency mining, which further deteriorated the region’s fragile energy stability.
According to Chernomorenergo, electricity consumption in the region with less than a quarter million people is increasing by 5-9% annually. The available power capacity fails to meet even the current consumption demands, Chernomorengo stated.
“Even without miners’ activities, the critical situation in the energy sector was formed several years ago,” Bzhania said, adding that they need solid private financial investments to solve the problem, as Abkhazia itself “does not possess the necessary funds.”
Bzhania also noted that Moscow will help Abkhazia with power supply during the reconstruction works of Enguri HPP: “in the spring of next year, the Enguri HPP will stop for repairs for several months. We need electricity, and we have no other option than assistance from the Russian side,” Bzhania underscored. Abkhaz leader said Putin promised him during their recent meeting to offer relevant aid to the region.
Abkhazia fully relies on electricity generated by the Enguri hydropower plant, the 271.5-meter-tall concrete arch dam of which 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 goes 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.