Kosovo and Albania sign deal to build major power line
PRISTINA Dec 21 (Reuters) - Neighbours Kosovo and Albania have signed a deal to build a 400-kV transmission line linking their grids to help them cope with rising consumption and join Balkan and European networks.
Financing of 75.4 million euros ($103 million) for the 241-km (150-mile) line will come from Germany, half as a grant and half as a loan from the German KfW development bank.
"This line will enable the two operators to work together as one single distribution system that will provide mutual benefits for customers of both countries," Kosovo's Economy Minister Fadil Ismajli said at the signing ceremony on Saturday in the Kosovo town of Prizren, close to northern Albania.
"Electricity provides the security of development for our future ... We are cooperating for the development of our countries," said Albania's Energy Minister Damian Gjiknuri.
Kosovo, most of whose citizens are ethnic Albanian, seceded from Serbia in 2008. Saturday's signing took place at the site of the founding in 1878 of the League of Prizren, an organisation which aimed to prevent the partition of Albanian lands and marked the beginning of the struggle for Albanian independence.
When the new line is finished in two years' time, it will allow Albania and Kosovo to exchange electricity to maximize the use of Albania's hydro-generated power in winter and Kosovo's coal-fired electricity in drier weather.
Almost all of Albania's power is produced by hydro stations while Kosovo produces more than 98 percent with coal. Both suffer power shortages due to insufficient output, the age of their grids and theft.
The two sides dubbed the line the "electricity highway", the second major project linking them after the building of a road giving Kosovo access to Adriatic ports. (Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Benet Koleka and Andrew Roche)
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