Macedonia's Economy Minister, Vera Rafajlovska, says that Macedonia is planning the construction of a series of hydroelectric power plants to cut the country's currently more than 40% level of power imports and will not be including the privatisation of the Elektrani na Makedonija (ELEM) state electricity company in its programme this year.

According to SeeNews, Rafajlovska said that the Macedonian government plans to attract investors in its hydroelectric power sector, with one of the largest projects in the sector being the construction of the Cebren and Galiste hydroelectric power plants. She noted that six large foreign companies, including Norway’s Statkraft, Italy’s Enel and and Japan’s Sumitomo, have passed the pre-qualification stage of the tender for the building of the plants. These plants will have a combined generating capacity of 530MW and will take six years to construct. The cost of their construction will be around EUR 538M (US$698M).

Macedonia’s hydroelectric power plants generated 1307GWh of electricity in the period from January 1 – September 24, 2006, as compared with their planned generation of 857GWh.

The Macedonian government is planning to issue a tender for the construction of 70 small hydroelectric power plants, with additional tenders for hydro plant construction to follow. It has identified 400 locations in Macedonia suitable for the building of hydroelectric power plants.