Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania said today Sokhumi had asked Russia to provide electricity as water levels in the Enguri Hydropower Plant are expected to reach critically low levels in the coming days.
“Over the past few months we have been negotiating with the Russian side. It used to be easier to solve such problems, now it is more difficult,” Kremlin-backed leader told Abkhaz lawmakers.
Bzhania implied that the last year Abkhazia received 1 billion kWh energy for free from Moscow, significant parts of which were consumed illegally, mainly by crypto farms, despite efforts to curb crypro-currency mining.
“We paid nothing for a billion kWh, we have no money. This had put a heavy burden on Inter RAO company,” the Abkhaz leader went on, adding that the Russian energy company is not willing “to incur obscure costs.”
But, Bzhania said, “the Russian leadership supports us, and I hope this will happen this time too.”
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The Russian-occupied region, fully relying on electricity generated by the Enguri HPP, has been experiencing energy crisis amid continuously increasing demands over the past years. Energy shortage prompted Sokhumi introduce rolling power cuts in November 2020, lasting till April 2021.
As per long-standing, informal deal between Tbilisi and Sokhumi, 40% of the electricity generated by the Enguri HPP goes to Abkhazia and the remaining 60% to the rest of Georgia, as the 271.5-meter-tall concrete HPP arch dam is located on the Georgian-controlled territory, while its five generators are on the Abkhaz side in Gali district.
Earlier in November, Levan Mebonia, chairman of Enguri HPP board told Abkhaz media that already by that time Abkhazia had consumed 1.4 billion kWh from the powerplant, almost reaching the 40% target, despite the three-months long closure of the HPP in early 2021.
Mebonia also said compared to 2018, electricity consumption in the region increased by 40%. “In 2018, Abkhazia consumed 1 billion 936 million kWh, in 2019 – 2 billion 59 million kWh, in 2020 – 2 billion 552 million,” he said, expecting the consumption to stand at 2.85 billion this year.