Kosovo starts power cuts as a result of energy crisis

PRISTINA, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Kosovo’s energy distribution company, KEDS, said it would start power cuts at 8 a.m. on Monday because of a lack of domestic production and high import prices.

“Consumers will have six hours on and two hours off,” KEDS spokesperson Viktor Buzhala told Reuters. The company did not say when the cuts would end.

Buzhala said that the company is getting only 500 MWh/h from lignite power plants and renewables and that consumption is reaching up to 800 MWh/h.

In a statement on Sunday, KEDS said that it and the country's transmission system operator, KOSTT, could not afford to import electricity and must rely on domestic production.

About 90% of the country's electricity production is from coal, and the power utility KEK has said it had shut down almost half of its generators for regular maintenance to prepare them for winter.

Electricity consumption tends to more than double in winter because homes use it for heating.

"If we are getting blackouts now, what will happen in winter? Will we freeze?" said Pristina resident Milaim Berisha, who was checking the distributor's app to find out when power would stop at his house.

Similar power cuts were introduced last December, when consumption rose to record levels as temperatures dropped below zero degrees Celsius.

In early August, Kosovo's parliament declared a 60-day energy state of emergency to help the government take whatever steps are necessary to cope with the crisis, including power cuts.
Reporting by Fatos Bytyci. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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