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OPIC Board Approves $58 Million for Hydropower Project in Georgia


Thursday, March 10, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) today approved $58 million in financing for the construction of a 46-megawatt hydropower plant in Georgia that will increase the country’s energy independence and its ability to export energy to neighboring Turkey – all without enlarging Georgia’s carbon footprint.

The OPIC loan will enable a subsidiary of JSC Caucasus Energy and Infrastructure (CEI) to construct and operate a hydropower generation facility near Akhaltsikhe in southern Georgia, along the Mtkvari River and the Turkish border. The project will generate approximately 20 permanent local jobs, and an estimated 250 temporary jobs for construction of the facility. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed by November 2013.

The project has been designed to take advantage of a new 400-500 kilovolt transmission line under construction – the so-called ‘Black Sea High Voltage Line’ – between Georgia and Turkey. The line will enable Georgian power providers to export electricity to Turkey and eventually to the rest of continental Europe through Turkey’s membership in the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity.

The project will thereby tap Georgia’s abundant hydropower capacity, only about 18 percent of which is currently utilized; and the fact that Turkey is one of the fastest-growing electricity markets in the world, averaging approximately seven percent annual growth since the 1980s.

The U.S. sponsors of the project are Firebird Avrora Fund, Ltd, and Firebird Republics Fund, Ltd., both of which invest primarily in companies operating in former Soviet republics; and Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.

“This project will substantially increase the supply of renewable electricity to Georgia and therefore Georgia’s energy independence,” said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield. “It demonstrates OPIC’s ongoing commitment to supporting economic development in an environmentally-friendly way, through the vehicle of American innovation.”

CEI Executive Chairman Bidzina Bejuashvili said, “thanks to the company’s close cooperation with OPIC, CEI is successfully pursuing development of the biggest hydro project in post-Soviet Georgian history. The 46 MW Mtkvari hydropower plant, once operational, will enable Georgia to strengthen its energy independence, as well as boost electricity exports to the neighboring countries.”