Slovakia seeks up compensation from Enel for Gabcikovo hydropower use

The Slovakian government is seeking up close to US$350 millilon in compensation from Italian power company Enel SpA after a court ruled its contract to operate the 720-MW Gabcikovo hydropower plant is invalid.

The government’s move stems back to January 2007, when Prime Minister Robert Fico urged Slovakia to invalidate a contract that in essence rented the hydroelectric plant to Enel. Enel had previously purchased a 66% interest in the plant’s owner, state utility Slovenske Elektrarne, in 2006 — at which point Gabcikovo’s operation was privatized under the new majority ownership group.

At that time, Fico said Slovakia was losing between $57 million and $76 million per year by renting Gabcikovo to the Italian company, though the government now said the figure is closer to between $38 million and $43.4 million per year.

“We will seek that Enel returns all money which it earned operating the hydropower plant for eight years on the basis of an invalid contract,” Fico said.

The government said in December that it plans to terminate the contract given disputes over maintenance terms by Enel.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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