The start of the construction of a small hydropower plant (mHe) on the Otilovići reservoir in Pljevlja is delayed because the Electric Power Company of Montenegro (EPCG) has not yet received the necessary urban planning and technical conditions (UTU), without which it cannot start the implementation of the project. The request for UTU was submitted in May of last year, and they are expected to be issued in the next month.
The work has not started yet, and the reason is that EPCG is waiting for the issuance of the UTU from the competent ministry from May 2022. Finally, a few days ago, there was a positive development in this matter and we received a draft of the urban planning and technical conditions for comments and we expect them to be issued to us by mid-May – EPCG explained.
The largest Montenegrin company expects that work on the implementation of this project will begin by the end of this year.
After the completed tender procedure (June-August), we expect to have a signed contract with the contractor by September. After the main project is completed, we plan to obtain a construction permit and introduce the contractor to the work by the end of 2023 – EPCG claims.
Electric Power Company of Montenegro previously claimed that the construction of the small hydropower plant (MHP) at the Otilovići reservoir will begin in the first half of 2023 and that the first kilowatts will be produced a year later.
They point out that drafting of changes and additions to the Spatial-Urban Plan (PUP) of the municipality of Pljevlja, which will develop this project, is underway.
EPCG submitted guidelines for the development of amendments to the PUP of the municipality of Pljevlja, with data related to the construction of the Otilovići MHE. The completion and adoption of this planning document is expected by the end of the year.
In parallel with these changes, we expect that the UTU for the preparation of project documentation for the Otilovići MHE will be issued in the next 30 days in accordance with the article of the law that defines the issuance of the UTU, the act of the Government for this type of facilities – they answered the question whether the planning documentation for this project has been completed and if not what is left to do.
EPCG stated that they have not yet chosen a contractor, but claim that they will call for a tender after obtaining the UTUs. The energy company will most likely finance the construction of the MHE in Otilovići with its own money.
EPCG will review the conditions for financing the project in the next few months. Given that interest rates for loans are currently not favorable, we will most likely finance the project from our own funds. The estimate is that the project will cost around EUR 4.5 million – the company replied.
The construction of the hydropower plant in Otilovići, as previously announced by EPCG, would take about 18 months, which means that it will not be able to start operating before the middle of 2025.
Last year, the government granted EPCG a concession for the use of water from the Otilovići reservoir for the construction of MHP.
In accordance with the adopted concession act, the concession fee will amount to 6.5% of the achieved annual production, with the fact that this amount cannot be less than five percent of the planned production. Percentages of annual production are converted into a monetary amount at the average price of electricity on the electricity exchange in the year for which the concession fee is calculated and allocated to the state and local budget in the manner defined by law – the energy company said.
The dam in Otilovići was built in 1982 on the Ćehotina River, and the water from it is used for the needs of the Thermal Power Plant and the water supply of Pljevlja. The height of the dam is 59 meters, and the volume of the created hydroaccumulation is about 18 million cubic meters.
EPCG has previously built a conceptual design and the power plant will be built on the foundation of the existing dam. It was planned during the construction of the dam and conditions were left for the construction of the supply infrastructure. It will have two aggregates, one that will work on ecologically acceptable flows and the other that will work in periods of medium and high water.
The power of the HPP would be about three megawatts, and it is expected to produce about 11 million kilowatt hours of electricity, which at current prices amounts to over two million euros per year.
EPCG explained that the HPP will be able to provide energy for more than 1,200 households.
Construction will not have a negative impact on the environment
When asked whether the project will have a negative impact on the environment, especially if it is taken into account that the upper reaches of the Ćehotina River will be declared a Nature Park, the EPCG replied that the construction of the MHP does not disturb the natural regime so far.
The construction of the HPP does not disturb the existing natural regime, except that it has a positive effect on the flood waves downstream of the dam. Through MHE, and by modernizing the dam’s equipment, more even discharge from the reservoir will be carried out, that is, the operation of the dam’s overflow in the period of high water will be maximally reduced – claims the largest Montenegrin company.
The Justice and Reconciliation Party demanded that after the construction of the hydropower plant, it should be handed over to the Municipality of Pljevlja, which EPCG assessed as an unrealistic option.