ICOLD meet highlights Russian hydro, utility activities

Russia played host to the annual meeting of an international large dams organization June 24-29, putting a spotlight on recent developments in Russian hydropower and the reorganization of its massive electricity system.

President Luis Berga of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) summed up the ICOLD’s 75th annual meeting by emphasizing the importance of Russian expertise and experience in large dams and hydropower. More than 800 dam owners, builders, and designers from more than 60 countries gathered June 24-29 in St. Petersburg. (HNN 6/27/07)

Fifth unit of 2,000-MW Bureyskaya on line

Chief Executive Anatoly Chubais of giant Russian utility Unified Energy Systems (UES) reported the fifth unit of the 2,000-MW Bureyskaya hydroelectric project went on line June 26 on the Amur River in Russia’s Amurskaya Region. Russia’s OJSC Power Machines has been supplying the turbines and generators. (HNN 4/13/07)

Chubais said the sixth and final unit of Bureyskaya should be completed by the end of the year.

�We earlier planned to bring the hydroelectric plant to full capacity in 2009, but a decision has just been made to commission it in 2008,� Chubais told the ICOLD meeting.

To bring hydropower to market from the Russian Far East, Chubais said UES is working on a project to build a transmission line from Siberia to Europe. Russia’s Itar-Tass news service quoted the utility head saying a direct current line from Siberia to Europe can be built in parallel to an alternating current line.

Chubais told the ICOLD meeting the project would be implemented to sell power from Siberia to central parts of Russia and Europe, which are experiencing electricity shortages. He said the project is technically complex and will require utilities’ maximum effort.

Chubais also said UES’ import and export subsidiary, Inter RAO UES, could conduct an initial public offering in 2008. However, he said it is necessary for some Russian and overseas assets to be contributed to the company’s charter capital to increase Inter RAO UES’ authorized capital.

UES’ Board of Directors decided June 22 to transfer several assets to the import-export unit, including the parent UES shares in the 670-MW Sangtuda 1 hydro project in Tajikistan. (HNN 6/27/07) UES has been helping Tajikistan build Sangtuda 1 on the Vakhsh River.

The UES board also approved the divestment of OAO UES Engineering Center, Russia’s largest engineering company, offering design and engineering services in construction and rehabilitation of thermal and hydropower facilities. It has 11 branches and three representative offices. The strategy is to improve the efficiency of Russian engineering companies in a newly competitive environment.

Russia’s giant federal hydropower generating company, HydroOGK, said it would be changing its name to RusHYDRO in a rebranding campaign.

President Vyacheslav Sinyugin said the name change is in anticipation of the company’s spin off from UES. After reorganization, HydroOGK is to become the world’s second largest hydropower generation company, after Canada’s Hydro-Quebec, combining more than 50 hydroelectric stations and 23,300 MW of installed capacity.

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