People in Kyrgyzstan again are talking about rolling blackouts. And some say that it is inevitable, while others assert that there will be no restrictions. However, the four years ago story is repeated this winter.
Speaking about the need to increase electricity tariffs, the newly head of the Ministry of Industry and Energy Kubanychbek Turdubayev said that in 2011-2012 escapage of water from the Toktogul reservoir was made. In those years, the volume reached a peak. Kyrgyz power engineers didn't think of anything better, but to sell generated electricity with the water in Kazakhstan, and not even thinking about the next years and the impending water shortage. "Wrong policy was implemented, that has led to a shortage of water now, because it's long-term regulation reservoir, and water could be saved. Power engineers miscalculated and made mistakes," Kubanychbek Turdubayev confessed.
Instead of punishing those whose fault Toktogul reservoir shoaled, power engineers shifted all responsibility to forecasters, who, in their opinion, made a wrong prediction of the coming low-water season. Industrialists hoped to accumulate 13 billion cubic meters of water, but couldn't raise the level above the 11.8 billion cubic meters. A complete stop threatened Toktogul HPP.
Data of the Ministry of Energy and Hydrometeorology on inflow are always different, although power engineers claimed that they base on the information of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. However, when the details of the error were made public, it was useless to hide incompetence.
Agency on Hydrometeorology asked Kubanychbek Turdubayev not shift responsibility and stated: water deficit can't be formed because of improper hydrological forecasting, and depends on the quality of water resources management.
In April Kyrgyz HydroMet issued a forecast of water availability and flow of water in the reservoir, including the Toktogul, on growing season (April-September), according to which it is expected to reach from 6,324 million up to 9,487 million cubic meters. In fact, it was 7,210 million cubic meters and was fully justified. The forecast said that this year water scarcity in the Syrdarya river basin is expected. Service employees of the Department of Water Resources of the Electrical Stations OJSC were recommended to use water efficiently. The volume of water actually had to be 13 billion cubic meters. Please be aware that only Kyrgyzhydromet predicts influx of water, but not the volume and releases to the reservoir, for which power engineers are responsible.
There is no need to guess where water evaporated. In August, Kazakhstan tearfully asked for to activate the accumulated for winter water in order to save farmland from drought. Neighbors returned electricity upon completion of the growing season. Kyrgyzstan has not received money for it. Now, cornered by popular indignation and fresh memories of rolling blackouts, officials have to ask Kazakh colleagues to sell us electricity for avoiding mass blackouts across the country. For such generosity of the brotherly state Kyrgyzstan will pay $86.6 million from the national budget. It should be noted that we won't pay for received energy on actual basis, but for "air". The funds will be used for payment of operating expenses of Zhambul SDPP. The neighbors of Kyrgyzstan agreed to cooperate only on prepaid basis. Thus OJSC Gazprom will supply 330 million cubic meters of natural gas to the Power Plant at $165 per one thousand cubic meters, and in return Kazakhstan will deliver 1.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to Kyrgyzstan.
Meanwhile, for passing the heating period without blackouts, power engineers will have to find 2.6 billion kilowatt hours, which are now in short supply. Turkmenistan expressed a desire to deliver 700 million kilowatts, but only if the issue on transit through Uzbekistan is resolved. It is possible that cost of energy will be fabulous. Missing amount isn't available elsewhere. Tajikistan could help only in summer, and in winter it suffers from rotating cutoffs.
In order not to ruin Toktogul HPP domestic managers have to resort to known method of saving - rolling blackouts that still veil by a variety of reasons: capacity unloading, failure to comply with limits of consumption, breakdowns. The name does not change the fact. We will hardly ever avoid gloomy nights, and power engineers have already started to save energy, because it is not known how accurately the agreement with the supplier is achieved.
Residents of southern regions will be the first on the line, who suffer from lack of gas as well. According to local residents, electricity is cut off every day for 2-3 hours in Osh and Jalal-Abad provinces, in Batken - for 14 hours. Consumers are told stories about breakdowns and local damage.
The Plenipotentiary Representative of the Government in Batken region Zhenish Razakov explained 24.kg news agency that this problem does not exist, and there are no mass blackouts. "The issue is under control. I can assure you that electricity isn't cut off for 8-12 hours. In areas where consumption limits are not observed, power outages can last for 4-6 hours," he said.
Northern regions also left without electricity for hours. The General Director of OJSC Vostokelektro Almasbek Dzhumakadyrov clarified that repair works are completed in Naryn and Issyk-Kul provinces, so electricity is cut off by the planed applications. Rotational blackouts aren't performed. "We didn't receive such information. The government gave command not to disconnect consumers. Despite the fact that this year we have 30 percent reduced consumption limit, we try to comply with the orders. For 11 days of November, consumers in Issyk-Kul region have used 7 million kilowatt hours over the limit, in Naryn - 2.5 million. But this reason we do not cut off electricity," the power engineer explained.
The Ministry of Energy finally stopped hiding the fact that they have to enter blackouts. Currently their schedule is worked out. Presumably, cutoffs will be introduced from midnight to 06.00 a.m. However, the President Almazbek Atambayev is sure that the "blackouts" will be avoided with the help of Kazakhstan. But all together we forget that purchased electricity will not fully cover the current deficit. Moreover, the agreement exists only in words. Contract for supply of electricity isn't yet signed up.