Under orders from the president, Evo Morales, Bolivia has nationalised two electricity distribution companies belonging to Spanish utility Iberdrola.

The government claims that it seized the distribution assets because Iberdrola doubled the price for electric supply in rural areas.

According to Spanish news agency Efe, Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (ENDE), the state power utility, has 180 days to commission an independent arbitrator to evaluate the seized assets and compensate Iberdrola accordingly.

Commenting on the situation, European Union officials emphasized that Iberdrola “must receive compensation”.

According to Reuters, the companies affected are Electropaz, which supplies around 470,000 customers in the cities of La Paz and El Alto and Elfeo, which supplies over 80,000 customers in the city of Oruro.

The nationalisation also includes two small suppliers owned by Iberdrola, which provide services to the distributors.

This is not the first time that Bolivia has seized electricity assets owned by a foreign company, in May a power transmission unit of Red Electrica, Spain’s was nationalized.

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