Bosnia's EPS, RWE unit in joint 210 MW hydro power project

Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:23am EDT

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* Construction may begin in 2014

* Total cost put at 460 mln euros

* Plants' output seen at 750 GWh annually

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Bosnian utility EPRS and RWE Innogy, a unit of Germany's second-largest utility RWE signed a joint venture deal on Wednesday to build four hydro power plants on Bosnia's Drina river with a combined capacity of 210 megawatts.

EPRS General Manager Branislava Milekic said RWE Innogy will hold a 60 percent stake in the joint venture and EPRS the remainder.

The total estimated cost of building the four run-of-the river power plants is 460 million euros ($596.27 million), she said, and once on-stream they should generate 750 GWh a year.

Olaf Heil, head of hydro and new technology at RWE Innogy, said that given a positive outcome to the feasibility studies and completion of the planning, the construction of the plants may begin from 2014.

"If all proceeds according to plan, we may be commissioning the first plant in 2019," he told reporters.

Zeljko Kovacevic, the energy minister of Bosnia's Serb Republic, where the plants will be located, said that EPRS might offer a share in its joint venture stake to neighbouring Serbia's power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS).

EPS and RWE signed a memorandum of understanding earlier in September on joint energy projects which the Serbian government said might involve investment of 2.2 billion euros. {nL58KAIUO]

Germany's plan to phase out nuclear power has caused billions of euros in writedowns and triggered asset sales and job cuts at major utilities, including RWE.

RWE aims to move away from nuclear power and increase efforts in renewable energy, in which it plans to invest 5 billion euros over five years.

Bosnia gets 40 percent of its electricity from hydro power, with the rest coming from coal-fired plants, making the Balkan country one of the few in the region capable of exporting power. Its neighbours rely on imports to cover between 30 and 50 percent of their consumption. ($1 = 0.7715 euros) (Reporting by Gordana Katana and Cristoph Stetiz; Writing by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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