Albania borrows $150MM to improve power systems

A man walks past a wooden pylon from which a thicket of electric wires spread out to surrounding buildings and households in Tirana, Albania, on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. About 95 percent of Albania’s electricity generation comes from hydroelectric plants, with only 5 percent from fossil fuels. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Copyright 2014, The Associated Press

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The World Bank is lending Albania $150 million (€118 million) to help overhaul its dysfunctional state-run power sector and pay for electricity imports from other Balkan states.

The Energy Ministry said Tuesday the loan will also be used to boost the efficiency of bill collection from power consumers — some 400,000 of whom have been cut off over the past year for outstanding debts.

The two state companies responsible for electricity generation — mostly through hydroelectric plants — and distribution lost $550 million (€433 million) this year, largely due to unpaid bills.

Because of poor infrastructure maintenance and widespread electricity theft, only about 58 percent of all power entering Albania's network reaches its destination.

In May, the World Bank lent Albania $220 million (€173 million) for tax and pension reforms.

 

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