Nearly all of Tajikistan was hit by a blackout on October 28, following an unexpected outage at the former Soviet republic’s largest power producer, the Nurek hydroelectric power plant (HPP).
According to press reports, the blackout affected the capital city Dushanbe and all other areas of the country except for the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region, which receives electricity from another supplier, Pamir Energy. The power went off at about 18:30 local time and came back on three hours later.
The cause of the outage was not immediately clear. On October 31, the national power provider Barq-i Tojik said it had established a special commission to investigate the incident and to determine the reasons for the blackouts. Nozirjon Yodgori, a spokesman for the utility, told Asia-Plus in an interview that Barq-i Tojik would need at least two weeks to complete the probe.
Power shortages are relatively common in Tajikistan. The October 28 blackout was notable, though, because it nearly led to the shutdown of one of the country’s most important industrial facilities – the smelter operated by Tajik Aluminium Co. (TALCO) in Tursunzoda.
Igor Sattarov, a spokesman for TALCO, said on October 31 that Barq-i Tojik had tried and failed to restore electricity deliveries to the smelter at 20:40 on October 28. “Power supply was resumed only at 21:30, but Barq-i Tojik needed another one and a half hours to resume normal power supply to the smelter,” he was quoted as saying by Asia-Plus. The utility brought delivery volumes back to the regular level at 23:18, he explained.
The blackout occurred just one day before Barq-i Tojik began construction work on the dam that will power the Rogun HPP. Russia’s Sputnik news agency speculated that Tajik authorities might have initiated the outage in a bid to reduce the risk of blasting work at the construction site on the Vakhsh River. Alternatively, Sputnik said, the outage may have resulted from problems with the LEP-500 transmission line, which supplies power to most regions of Tajikistan.