About Us

Uzbekistan to withdraw from regional power grid

Nov 9, 2009 - The Associated Press

Uzbekistan is set to withdraw from the Central Asian unified power grid that links four Soviet nations in the region, a top energy official announced Thursday in a move that will prompt fears of deepening electricity shortages among neighboring countries.

Uzbekenergo dispatch center chief Esso Sadullayev wrote in the government newspaper Pravda Vostoka that the grid has become a source of conflict between participating countries.

Uzbekistan acts as a transit point for electricity supplies between energy-rich Kazakhstan and power-starved Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

But officials have registered anger at repeated moves by Tajikistan to siphon off more electricity from the network than it was allocated.

"In the way that the Central Asia unified energy system currently works, there is a real threat to the stability and safety of Uzbekistan's own power system," Sadullayev said. "In these circumstances, Uzbekenergo sees no possibility of continuing to operate" in the grid.

Uzbekenergo says Tajikistan has illegally appropriated around 100 million kilowatt hours from the system since late last year.

Tajik authorities acknowledge their actions and have made efforts to supply the intended users of the electricity with amounts equivalent to what they took.

Countries in the region are highly dependent on one another's power and water supplies, but have failed to reach any consensus on how to share their resources.

Complex difficulties over resource-sharing are a lingering legacy of the haphazard fashion in which national boundaries were created during the Soviet Union.

Local reports have suggested Uzbekistan will begin seeking payment for electricity transmission through its lines, whereas transit rights for power deliveries from Kazakhstan to cash-strapped Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were previously provided for free.

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have also been studying ways to link their grids directly, although Kazakhstan warned last month it may also pull out of the regional grid in the even of further misappropriations of electricity.

In a related development, Tajikistan's power company announced Thursday that will suspend electricity supplies to several regions in the country, raising concerns of another winter of crippling blackouts.

Tajik energy officials say they are negotiating with Uzbekistan to allow the transit of electricity from energy-rich Turkmenistan.