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Verbund Studies Albanian Sale of State-Owned Hydro Plants

Verbund AG, Austria’s biggest utility, is interested in the sale of four state-owned hydropower plants in Albania and will decide “before the summer” whether to make a bid.

The Albanian government wants to sell the Bistrica 1, Bistrica 2, Ulez and Shkopet plants, Ines Schurin, Verbund’s spokeswoman, said today by e-mail from Vienna. The company sees long-term investment opportunities in the region between Austria and Turkey, she said.

Albania is trying to attract private investors to its power market as it diversifies energy sources and sells some of its utilities. The government of the former Communist nation awarded 5.2 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in wind power and hydroelectric contracts in the past four years.

The four plants have a total capacity of 80 megawatts and experts see a sale price of about 1 million euros per megawatt, WirtschaftsBlatt reported today, without saying where it got the information.

France’s Cie. Nationale du Rhone CNR and Austria’s EVN AG also are interested in the facilities, according to a May 15 statement from Albania’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy.

Verbund and EVN already are building a hydropower plant in Ashta in the northwest of Albania that is scheduled to be completed this year. EVN, Austria’s second-biggest utility, is also building three hydropower plants on the Devoll river in Albania along with Norway’s Statkraft AS.

“We are generally interested in renewable energy in our core markets of Austria, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania,” said Stefan Zach, a spokesman for EVN, declining to comment on specifics.

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