The regional governor and the Unified Energy Systems (UES) of Russia stock company have thrown their support behind the building of the Katun Hydroelectric Power Plant and its Chemal river counterpart in the Western Siberian republic of Altai.

The project is expected to be implemented jointly by the Altai Territory, the Republic of Altai, UES of Russia company, the Altaienergo stock company and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said Vladimir Germanenko, deputy head of the administration of the Altai Territory.

Electricity shortage amounting to 70 per cent of requirements exists in the united power system of the Altai Territory and the Republic of Altai This shortage is expected to become even more acute in the coming years. The Hydroelectric power plant on the Katun river was made designed as early as 1983 and preparatory work was done at that time. Construction was never begun, however, due to strong protest actions from the ecological movement and scientific community who argued that the project would endanger the unique nature of mount Altai – coupled with money shortages.

“The building of the HPP, along with the planned building of a gas pipeline, a highway and a 500 kV power transmission line to China across several Russian regions would give a strong impetus to the economic development of the Altai Territory and the Republic of Altai,” said Altai governor Alexander Surikov. “It would also promote a more intensive development of economic relations with the border areas of China.”