19 April 2018, 08:19

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Most money for EPS and companies connected to Nikola Petrović again

Almost 40% of the funds the state paid to owners of small hydro power plants (SHP) for purchase of electric power in 2017 ended up in EPS and companies connected to Aleksandar Vučić's best man Nikola Petrović; the amount was close to €6.6 million


By: Dina Đorđević

Mini hidroelektrana u izgradnji, Foto: CINS

Mini hidroelektrana u izgradnji, Foto: CINS

Out of the €16.7 million, which was the amount paid in 2017 by the state to owners of 81 small hydro power plants in Serbia, Serbian Electric Power Industry (EPS) received the largest portion – almost €3.7 million. It is followed by companies connected to Nikola Petrović, best man of Serbia's president Aleksandar Vučić, which were paid somewhat less than €2.9 million.


EPS and the companies connected to Petrović jointly earned the income of almost €6.6 million, which is almost 40% of the total amount of money paid last year.


Upon commissioning of small hydro plants, investors who built them and who are granted the status of privileged producers by the Ministry of Energy earn profit from the state which purchases power from them at predetermined higher prices. This money comes from citizens of Serbia, whose power bills are increased by the separate fee.


Reports on payments for 2017 indicate that the trend from the period 2013-2016, when the same companies received the largest amounts of money continued; CINS already wrote about this.

 

Companies connected to Nikola Petrović received €2,9 million

Photo: Milan Obradović/Beta

Regarded as a total, from 2013 to the end of 2017 EPS earned almost €17.6 million on these grounds. In the period 2013-2017, companies nowadays owned by Petrović and his business partners were paid almost €10.1 million.


In the last five years, their joint income amounting to €27.7 million comprises 47.5% of the total amount Serbia paid for purchase of power from small hydro plants.


Data for 2017 also indicates that the number of power plants owned by these owners remained the same.


EPS was also paid money for power from the Drina-Lim power plants: Ovčar Banja, Međuvršje, and Radaljska Banja.


Eco Energo Group is the owner of seven power plants in the municipality of Crna Тrava at the south-east of the country. Nikola Petrović is the co-owner and manager of the company, while his partners Dragan Klisura, owner of Hidro-Tan company which constructs small hydro power plants, Nenad Kovač, owner of Roaming Electronics company, and Vera Ristić, owner of Eco Global company and mother of Jelena Đoković, wife of tennis player Novak Đoković, also hold shares in ownership.


Eco Energo Group, its owners, and Nikola Petrović own the small hydro plant Jabukovik, also located in Crna Trava, while the owner of SHP Županj is Eco Glotek company, in which Petrović is a co-owner together with Kovač, Klisura, and the Swiss company Glotec International.


As the director of the state-owned company Elektromreža Srbije (EMS) in the period from 2012 to 2016, Nikola Petrović did not own shares in ownership in Eco Energo Group; however, he returned having left EMS.

 

 


Water between two fires


Earlier investigations conducted by CINS indicate that investments in small hydro power plants are partly made by officials and individuals close to authorities, and that citizen interest frequently remains hidden behind interest of investors.


Activists, NGOs, but also reports of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia have for several years pointed to negative effects of construction of small hydro plants which include drying out of rivers due to failure to observe the biological minimum, that is, the amount of water which producers guarantee to remain in the rivers, together with the flora and fauna in them.


On contrary, the authorities in Serbia stimulate power generation from small hydro plants, having committed to the Energy Community to generate 27% of power consumed from renewable sources by 2020.


Only in 2017, companies which were privileged producers, including hydro power plants, producers of power from solar energy, wind energy, biomass, natural gas, and fossil fuels, were paid almost €45 million.


In the course of 2017, the largest amount of power from renewable sources was generated from hydro energy – as much as 42.96%, as indicated in the Report on amount and structure of electric power generated in the feed-in system.

 

Overview of SHP locations in Pirot municipality

Photo: CINS

The report of the Republic Bureau for statistics on total generated power in 2017 has not been published yet; however, data for 2016 indicates that in that year the amount of electric power purchased by small hydro plants amounted to only 0.49% out of the total amount of electric power generated in the country. This means that not even massive construction of small power plants increased the amount of power generated from renewable sources in significant amounts.


In an earlier interview for CINS, Ratko Ristić, Dean of Belgrade Faculty of Forestry, stated that reconstruction of power plants which have existed in Serbia for several decades could yield larger amounts of power than what may be produced by construction of small hydro plants.


Throughout Serbia - in Priboj, Knjaževac, and Jošanička Banja - citizens protested against construction of small hydro plants.


In the course of their visit to Jošanička Banja in January this year, CINS journalists talked to former members of the Committee for protection and development of Jošanička Banja - Jelena Drmanac and Aleksandar Drašković. In 2013, in the course of several months of existence of the committee, they were pointing to issues in construction of hydro power plants and initiated supervision of the Institute for Nature Conservation over a part of the Jošanička River. In its Report, the Institute established that “the eco system of the Jošanička River has been threatened and damaged to a large extent and in a large area”.


CINS journalists visited Jošanička Banja in the vicinity of which construction of small hydro plants is in full swing.


In 2017, inhabitants of the village of Temska in the vicinity of Pirot also protested for redirection of the Toplodolska River into Zavojsko Lake used by Pirot hydro plant. This river is located at the territory of Nature Park Stara Planina. Citizens of this area also recently protested against construction of the SHP Pakleštica on the river Visočici, also located in the Nature Park.


In an interview for CINS, Bojan Ivković, Energy manager of Pirot, said that out of the 58 sites for construction of small hydro plants in this area, as many as 43 are located in the Nature Park.


In its reply for CINS from the beginning of February this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection stated that they were against construction of small hydro plants in protected areas, because “the portion of energy generated from renewable sources of energy in Serbia is not in line with the harmful impact and changes instituted in protected areas”.


Likewise, in the beginning of April, Goran Trivan, minister of environmental protection, stated in Pirot that a mistake was made when construction of small hydro plants was allowed in protected areas.

 


The investigation was conducted with participation of Ivana Jeremić.


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