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Small hydropower plant opens in Okami

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, May 19
A small hydropower plant was opened in the village of Okami in the Shida Kartli region on Friday. The plant will generate 1,600 KW of clean renewable energy to individuals and businesses in the region. Rehabilitation of the old existing plant was carried out as part of USAID’s Rural Energy Programme, which provided a USD 119,000 grant, the remainder of the necessary funds coming from private investment and commercial loans. In addition, the Rural Energy Programme provided technical assistance and training to the owners of the plant and its investors. USD 550,000 was spent on the rehabilitation of the Okami HPP in total.

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John F. Tefft, Daniel Rosenblum the Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, the Georgian Energy Minister Alexander Khetaguri and other dignitaries participated in the opening ceremony of the plant. Khetaguri said that establishing small hydropower plants is very important for Georgia’s energy security. “Georgia has rich resources of water, so building and rehabilitating small hydropower plants is very important not only for local villages but in strengthening Georgia’s energy security,” Khetaguri said, adding that local materials were used in the HPP rehabilitation. He also noted that the opening of the HPP would increase number of jobs in the village.

Daniel Rosenblum said that energy security is one of the key issues in Georgia. He added that a large part of US’s pledged USD 1 billion for Georgia will be spent on strengthening Georgia’s energy security. Ambassador Tefft said that the small hydropower plant would bring not only electricity but more jobs and a better life to the residents of the region. “We think this is major contribution to giving Georgia a secure, clean and reliable energy supply for local generation, this is building the future of this wonderful country,” he said.

The owner of Okami 2007 Ltd, Vano Aptsiauri, thanked the US Embassy, USAID’s Rural Energy Programme and the Georgian Energy Ministry for their assistance in rehabilitating the HPP. “If such assistance projects continue, many more hydropower plants will be built and rehabilitated, which will create more jobs in the countryside and regions of Georgia,” Aptsiauri noted.

The residents of Okami village said it was an “historic” day for the village. “It will be a great relief for us,” Okami resident Robinzon Bunturi said. “We had some power cuts before,” he added.

The Okami small hydropower plant is one of the eight HPPs opened throughout Georgia with the assistance of USAID’s Rural Energy Programme, which is in its fourth and last year. This USD 11.5 million initiative will provide the Georgian energy system with 10 megawatts of ecologically clean renewable energy.