Electricity

Special panel in BiH to address dispute over Buk Bijela hydropower project

BiH joint commission for concessions on Buk Bijela project to be established in September

Photo: analogicus from Pixabay

Published

September 1, 2021

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Published:

September 1, 2021

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The Commission for Concessions of Bosnia and Herzegovina will try to resolve the jurisdiction issue between the Republic of Srpska, one of the country’s two entities, and the central government with regard to the Buk Bijela hydropower plant and two related projects.

The Republic of Srpska awarded the concessions for the construction of three hydropower plants: Buk Bijela, Foča and Paunci, to Hidroenergetski Sistem Gornja Drina. However, a group of representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH claimed only the central government is authorized to make decisions regarding state property, such as rivers at international borders.

Serbia’s power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) is a majority owner with 51% in the firm, while the Republic of Srpska’s power utility Elektroprivreda Republike (ERS) controls the remainder. The construction of the first HPP, Buk Bijela, began in May.

In mid-July, the Constitutional Court of BiH told the Commission for Concessions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to resolve the issue with the three concessions within three months. The decision was reached upon the request of 24 members of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH to annul the concessions awarded by the Government of the Republic of Srpska.

The key question is whether the entity or the central government are responsible for granting concessions for the construction of the three HPPs on the Drina river

Milomir Amović, Deputy Chairman of the BiH Commission for Concessions, told local television BHRT that the panel would act upon the request of the Constitutional Court and form a joint commission in September. He revealed the first task would be to address the dispute about the Buk Bijela hydropower project.

The commission will establish a joint commission with members of the Commission for Concessions of the Republic of Srpska, he said.

Amović said the special panel would initially determine whether the subject of the dispute is constitutional jurisdiction or if it’s procedural or regulatory jurisdiction, in which case the Commission for Concessions has the authority to decide.

Entire BiH needs HPP Buk Bijela – Republic of Srpska Prime Minister

The key question is whether the Republic of Srpska or the central government of BiH have the authority to award concessions for the three projects on the Drina. In its decision, the Constitutional Court pointed to previous cases in which it determined water is a public good, considered state property.

Such projects cannot be implemented without the central government’s consent – member of the BiH parliament

Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska Radovan Višković said the entity must reach a 60% target for renewables between 2030 and 2035. He is convinced that HPP Buk Bijela is necessary for the entire country.

On the other hand, Saša Magazinović, a member of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, said the Constitutional Court’s ruling is clear. He added such projects cannot be implemented without the central government’s consent.

Of note, a month ago Montenegro and the Republic of Srpska agreed to assemble an expert team to examine the possible impact of HPP Buk Bijela on the Tara river in Montenegro.

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