Albania’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy has found 9 more cases of contract violations during its review of concession agreements for hydropower plants (HPPs). This amounts to 17 concession deals the ministry has started severing, the ministry said on its website.
The ministry did not reveal the names of investors in question, the location of the HPPs, or their size. According to local media, the 17 agreements include many on small hydropower plants (SHPPs).
The revision of hydropower projects has started in line with a decision adopted by the ministry at the end of January. A week earlier, Belinda Balluku stepped in as the new minister.
At the beginning of February, she announced a moratorium on new HPPs and launched an investigation into 182 licenses issued to build 440 HPPs, most of that small HPP.
The investors holding the concessions most often failed to meet procedural deadlines and to comply with the legal conditions and criteria defined by the contracts and permits, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Hantin Bonati said, according to a statement published on the ministry’s website.
The National Agency for Natural Resources has completed the field monitoring and verification process, and now the activities are focused on documentation and coordination between various institutions such as the Ministry of Tourism and Environment and the Water Resources Management Agency in order to find a solution as to how to continue.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy is acting carefully during the revision of the concession contracts in order to minimize possible risks and financial implications to the state budget.
Issues repeatedly identified during this review are being analyzed so the entire concession procedure can be rearranged, as well as the process of monitoring and controlling after the agreements are signed, Bonati said.
New minister, new CEOs of state companies
Following Belinda Balluku’s appointment, major changes happened in Albania’s state energy sector.
General manager of public power utility KESH Agron Hetoja and general manager of Albanian transmission system operator OST Klodian Gradeci were sacked.
Hetoja was replaced by Benet Beci while Skerdi Drenova became the new OST CEO.