On the occasion of March 14th, the International Day of Actions for Rivers, the Coalition for Protection of the Rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina calls on the competent authorities to immediately suspend public incentives for the production of energy from small hydropower plants as stated in the Declaration on the Protection of the Western Balkans Rivers.
The Declaration was adopted at a conference “Legal and practical tools for protecting the rivers of the Western Balkans and their people” held in November 2019 in Sarajevo. The conference was organized by Arnika (the Czech Republic), Center for Environment (BiH) and WWF Adria with the financial support of the European Union, the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Republic, the Global Greengrants Fund and the Heinrich-Böll Stiftung Foundation.
“The environmental damage caused by small hydropower plants is paid by electricity consumers through a renewable energy charge on their electricity bills. It is water that is being exploited in our country while the great potentials of sun and wind are completely untouched. The entity government of the Republic of Srpska even abolished wind power incentives in March last year, clearly favouring small hydropower plant projects,”said Miloš Orlić, Coordinator of the Coalition for Protection of the Rivers of BiH.
The average monthly consumption of electricity by households in the Bosnia and Herzegovina is approximately 350 kilowatt hours. This means that the monthly renewable energy charge averages 3 BAM, which is 36BAM annually for each household for renewable energy sources.
“The transparency of the incentive system for renewable energy sources is very controversial. If citizens spend money, then they also have to ask if and in which energy sources they want to invest their money. This is not the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although experts believe that investments in renewable energy sources are very profitable even without public incentives, which was emphasized at the First Energy Summit – SET 2020held recently in Trebinje to discuss the energy future of the Western
Balkans, “emphasized Orlić.
Zuzana Vachunova from Arnika emphasizes that all countries face similar problems:
“That is inadequate enforcement of environmental legislation, water management and minimal flow, and disproportionate and non-transparent financial support compared to wind and solar. That is why a moratorium on the construction of all new SHPPs is necessary.”
Traditional activities organized by Coalition members for International day of actions for rivers are being postponed this year to limit the potential exposure of COVID-19 activists and citizens to the virus. The Coalition says they will not give up their defence of the rivers, as well as the requirements that are clearly defined in the Declaration, the text of which can be found here.