German utility talks with Bosnian Serbs about hydro development

The prime minister of the Serb-controlled half of Bosnia says the Serb Republic is in talks with Germany’s RWE on future hydroelectric project development.

Regional Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said October 3 the Serb Republic had the potential for 10 medium-sized hydropower plants, 100 smaller hydro plants, and three new thermal electric power plants.

Dodik said the region would not privatize its five existing hydropower stations and two thermal plants but would seek investment in new projects.

The regional prime minister said General Electric (GE) is to sign an investment deal worth at least 400 million euros (US545 million) in the Serb half of Bosnia on October 23. He said 300 million euros (US$409 million) would be in the energy sector and 100 million euros (US$136 million) would be in the health sector.

After the Bosnia war of 1992-1995, a peace agreement split the country into a mostly Serb half and a Muslim-Croat half under a federal government. Dodik has sought to make the Serb Republic the greater lure for foreign investment with lower taxes and streamlined regulation, although some diplomats are wary about rhetoric hinting the region might want to secede from Bosnia.

On behalf of Bosnia’s Serb Republic government, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development earlier this year recruited consultants to implement an environmental assessment and to help promote hydropower projects on the Vrbas and Bosna rivers. (HNN 4/18/08)

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