Engurhesi supplied 45% of Georgia’s energy in 2010 and aims to continue to provide the power the country needs to support its ongoing development. Engurhesi is 100% government owned but is operated with the flexibility and accountability of a private company.

Levan Mebonia, Chairman of the Board of Directors, explains, “Our number one priority is to maintain our current level of energy production. We charge the government low tariffs for the energy we produce, and the government then passes along this saving to consumers.”

Engurhesi, which operates the highest arched dam in the world, is now overseen by the Ministry of Energy, highlighting its importance to Georgia’s energy sector. Engurhesi’s biggest project at the moment is the rehabilitation of two 260MW generating units of Engurhesi HPP and Vardnili HPPs Cascade.

Levan Mebonia says, “We have received €40 million from the EBRD and €5 million from the EU for this initiative, and we are on schedule to complete it by the 2013 deadline. A tender has been issued for the initial engineering involved in these upgrades, and five European companies have shown interest. They trust us and they know that this project will be profitable for them.”

Additional tenders will be issued for the construction phase of the project, and Engurhesi welcomes more partnerships with European companies. Levan Mebonia cites several companies which have been so successful in their parnerships with Engurhesi that they have opened their own offices in Tbilisi.

Vast growth potential in energy sector

Now is the time for foreign investors to target Georgia, Levan Mebonia believes, not only because of the country’s vast potential for producing hydroelectric power both for the domestic market and for export, but also because Georgia has been steadily upgrading its technologies, human resources and business practices to meet international standards. “Engurhesi, for example, has implemented modern European equipment and we have sent staff to Europe to be trained in operating this equipment,” he explains.

An additional advantage for investors in Georgia’s energy sector is that the government has streamlined the licensing process for projects involving energy production as well as the procedures for starting a business in Georgia.

“Our priority here in Georgia is to implement European standards. We have already achieved success; only ten years ago Tbilisi had no electricity or gas, but now we not only have electricity all over Georgia but we are also exporting electricity to four countries,” Levan Mebonia says. Engurhesi serves as an example of world class performance in the energy sector and of successful cooperation between Georgia and Europe.