Macedonia is on the verge of formally declaring an energy crisis, as both coal and hydro supplies are greatly reduced, and prices for importing electricity at the regional market are still very high.

Economy Minister Kresnik Bekteshi said that the state of crisis will be formally declared early next week, and the Government will use it to forward direct payments to the key energy companies. One of them, MEPSO, raised alarm bells when it informed that it was practically stealing electricity from its European partners and has to pay serious penalties – money it doesn’t have.

Other than just covering the cost of energy imports in a highly unfavorable market, the only other pro-active measure announced by the Government is to try to help the ELEM company purchase coal for its two main coal plants – REK Oslomej and REK Bitola. The first has been largely dormant for years, while the latter – Macedonia’s largest energy plant – suffers from mismanagement of its coal mine and its reserves are almost out.

VMRO-DPMNE spokesman Naum Stoilkovski also points to the dismal situation with the hydro plants, sharing pictures of the exceptionally low water levels in artificial lakes which could have helped offset the crisis. The lakes were overused for profit during the summer, and now, with winter coming, there is not enough hydro potential. One of them, lake Debar, was drained to power hydro plants in Albania.

Macedonia faces an environmental disaster. Mavrovo Lake is so far down that its famous underwater church is now on dry land. There is not enough oxygen in the waters of lake Tikves and you can play football on the bed of lake Debar. This is all the fault of the Government and its mismanagement, Stoilkovski said.