The Georgian Authorities have resumed discussions over the Khudoni hydro power plant (HPP) construction project.
In parallel regime, the people objecting to the project have also intensified activities. They do not change the position. No one plans to live in caves, but an operation of three huge HPPs (Enguri HPP, Khudoni HPP and Nenskra HPP) in the same valley will annihilate the Balskvemouri part of the Svaneti Region, the remonstrant residents assert.
An extensive area will be flooded. This will be a huge mirror and our country will become enormous water storage in the near future; the existing climate will change, woodlands will disappear, flora and fauna will be annihilated, landslip processes will intensify. The changed climate will also affect the Racha Region and unique grape varieties will go withered. Operation of so many hydro power plants will entirely transform the local nature.
The objectors assert EU countries are introducing renewable energy systems (wind and solar energy systems), while the nature of Georgia is being sacrificed to mercantile interests of some groups. For example, Belgium is not a sunny country. Rains and rainstorms predominate there, but even this country has moved to renewable energy systems.
In this respect, Georgia has huge resources; for example, hot waters vainly run in the Samegrelo Region, while the country is able to make considerable benefit thanks to this resource. Huge reserves of wind and solar energy, as well as underground thermal waters in western Georgia are not employed. No house and building is constructed in Israel without water heating systems, while one heating system emits huge thermal energy.
Moreover, the objectors assert the Khudoni HPP construction project violates the third clause of the state constitution promulgating the joint power system must be administered by the Georgian state sector. The power system may be alienated, but the Authorities must own the controlling interest.
For example, the Brussels recommendations call for opening energy market and admitting foreign investors to European countries, but the EU members refuse to fulfill this requirement, because domestic power monopolists control the sector. The European power system remains under strict control. For example, the French government is sure that admittance of foreign investors to the sector will pose a threat to the strategic course of the country.
“I Believe Khudoni HPP will Be Georgia’s Most Reliable Reserve”
The Association of Young Financiers and Businessmen (AYFB) reveals its position regarding the Khudoni HPP construction project. AYFB analyst Andria Gvidiani says Khudoni HPP will be the most important chain in the Georgian power system and this station should be inevitably built.
“A lot of different approaches are expressed regarding the Khudoni HPP project. Environmentalist organizations are basic objectors. Naturally, we understand their position, because major HPPs genuinely affect the environment to a little extent. At the same time, we should follow the current realities and tendencies.
Georgia’s electricity consumption volume grows year by year and the growing demand should be satisfied. Therefore, I believe new assets of generation should be constructed. I believe that during the construction process we should maximally adjust the power system to the environment protection interests.
While talking about the environmental issues, I recall the 1989 environment impact assessment act promulgating the Khudoni HPP could not change the general climate of the Upper Svaneti and the river Enguri basin. As to the Khudoni HPP seismic steadiness, the asset is able to withstand a 9-magnitude earthquake and it will be the strongest and steadiest building in Georgia (for comparison: Enguri HPP was planned to withstand an 8-magnitude earthquake).
There are also certain considerations that the territories flooded by major HPPs provoke various cataclysms and natural disasters. In reality, to say without emotions, this argument is very weak, because cataclysms and natural disasters used to happen even before invention of electricity.
An important factor in construction of major HPPs is that similar HPPs are able to create reliable reserve in the power system, without which the network cannot be reliable and cannot work valuably. Therefore, I believe Khudoni HPP will be the most reliable reserve in the Georgian power system. Currently, steam power plants create similar reserves and they operate on imported raw materials.
Major HPPs are also able to stabilize electricity tariffs in the long-term perspective. Domestic generation assets will replace imported electricity and raw materials. Electricity import in the peak periods is very expensive and it makes negative affect on electricity tariffs. Moreover, dependence on imports makes our energy security vulnerable.
The Khudoni HPP project is attractive and of vital importance in terms of economic characteristics. As reported, the project will draw 1.2 billion USD investment to the Georgian economy and this injection will revive the state economy”, Andria Gvidiani said.
“Khudoni HPP Construction will Sharpen Risk Factors”
Doctor in Energy Sciences Miron Pirtskhelani says the Russian Federation acts behind the Khudoni HPP project. He calls on the Authorities to keep pre-election promises and either reject constructing giant HPPs or openly declare a genocide against the Svaneti residents.
The specialist says the Khudoni HPP construction will increase risk factors, including earthquakes and natural disasters (avalanches, landslips). In case of hostilities, cascades will be first brought under attack, including the Khudoni Cascade. He recalled the 2008 hostilities, when Russian jets were flying over Enguri and Zhinvali water storages.
‘The disaster provoked by all three reasons will bring catastrophic outcomes. Intense fall of 1.5 cubic meters of water into the Black Sea will pose a disastrous hazard to the whole Imereti Lowland, Samegrelo and Abkhazia, the Black Sea basin countries, particularly, the Turkish coastline. Residents of Khaishi, Idliani, Chuberi will have to leave their places. This signifies the Balskvemouri part of the Svaneti Region will be depopulated.
And who will take the profits? The foreign owner will completely sell the 1.5 billion kilowatt-hour electricity, but the price of a kilowatt-hour will be so high Georgian consumers will not be able to consume this electricity. Georgia will have to purchase power from neighboring countries at cheaper tariffs (from Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia).
The regulatory commission has already revised the tariff system and naturally, tariffs will increase there too, because the GEL devaluation affects them too. Is it worth to resettle residents of the Balskvemouri part of the Svaneti Region for 15 million USD? We have many tributaries to the river Enguri and these resources may be employed”, Miron Pirtskhelani noted.
Georgian militants, including the Club of Generals and various research works substantiate that not an Indian company, but Russian Federation acts behind the Khudoni HPP project.
Namely, in 10 kilometers from the Khudoni Cascade Russian troops are deployed in the Kodori Gorge and they aim to somehow resettle the local population to pave a direct way to Lentekhi, the Bavari Gorge, then to Kvaisa that is Racha Region, where also the so-called South Ossetian troops are deployed. Therefore, a joint integrated line will be composed and the 500-kilometer line of the Caucasian watershed will be fully cut from the remaining part of Georgia.
“Only Ignorant and Wrecker People Consider Power System in Isolated Regime”
Anzor Chitanava, a vice president for the national energy academy of Georgia, says the Russian Federation does not act behind the Khudoni HPP project. The project was drafted in the Soviet period and it was considered as a constituent part of the Soviet Union power system, because Georgia was considered to be one of the main power hubs in the South Caucasus. Khudoni HPP parameters were selected to satisfy these requirements.
“And now we should answer the question whether the Soviet Era parameters fit the today requirements. I have been working in this field for 52 years. I started as an ordinary engineer and finally, became a head of the field in terms of projection, scientific research and supervision.
My institute was carrying out this entire job, and I have worked as a director for 30 years there. Today I assert the Khudoni HPP project fits the current requirements. The people, who consider the power system in an isolated regime in behalf of only their own country are ignorant and wreckers. Intersystem communication, relations, exchanges are the first source for upgrading the energy efficiency.
Khudoni HPP should be considered as the South Caucasian asset. Nothing has changed in the South Caucasus and Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey still exist in this region. Consequently, the range of its influence has broadened. Hence, Khudoni HPP parameters will satisfy tomorrow requirements too”, Anzor Chitanava said.
As to negative factors, Anzor Chitanava confirmed the local residents should be resettled, but the investor must create comfortable living conditions for them by arranging a new settlement of Khaishi. A corresponding project has been already developed and it may be implemented in the lower part of the area, he added.
As to the negative environmental impact on the Svaneti climate, he said only micro-limited zones will be affected. This impact will reach only the water storage level, on 800 meters from maximal zone and on 1.5 kilometers from the last point of the water storage.
“They said the Svaneti Region will be depopulated, landslips and cataclysms will be intensified. Cataclysms intensification may be provoked by the aggression the people may show in this or that phase of the construction works. We should not demonstrate aggression. On the contrary, we should restrain from our aggression. Khudoni HPP electricity tariffs become disputable for the people who are ignorant of power system and the way in which the electricity tariffs are determined in the power system.
The tariff will be high during the investment return period. This signifies it will take about 8-10 years to return the investment, but the tariff will be evenly shared to the whole country, the weighed tariff will be set. After this period, the tariff will drop to the electricity cost price. Initially the price of a kilowatt-hour of Khudoni electricity will be 0.12-0.15 USD, but this does not signify electricity tariff will rise in Georgia.
The investments will be returned in 8-10 years thanks to the mentioned tariff and after that period, lower tariff will be introduced. The HPP exploitation period ranges from 50 to 80 years.
Moreover, Anzor Chitanava says they have taken a decision not to construct major water storages and cascades above Khudoni HPP, because aggression, environment impact, explosions, change of the riverbed will inspire irreversible processes in the Svaneti Region. Therefore, a combination of Enguri HPP and Khudoni HPP is sufficient, Anzor Chitanava concluded.
“Show me the people who object to this project and I will persuade them in everything”, Anzor Chitanava noted.