For over a decade now, Ljubomir Mrda has been the director of Elektrodistribucija Pale, one of the most successful business entities in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a member of a large, complex system that is Elektroprivreda, the state power supplier in the Republic of Srpska. Together with his management team, Mr Mrda has succeeded in exercising strict control of all of the company’s costs, preventing the loss of electricity in the power distribution grid, changing the company’s attitude towards its customers, introducing new standards and technologies in business, accumulating huge savings and setting aside realistic amounts of money for the company’s development and capital investments. With 50 million convertible marks worth of savings and over 70 million worth of investments, including the construction of two new hydropower plants in the municipalities of Rogatica and Trnovo near Sarajevo, Elektrodistribucija a.d. Pale is a respectable and socially responsible company today.
Mr Mrda, could you describe for us the current situation and operations in Elektrodistribucija Pale?
– There are many indicators that show that Elektrodistribucija Pale, with its 600 employees in 13 municipalities in the eastern part of the Republic of Srpska, is today one of the most successful companies in the Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske Holding Company. Every day we are progressing and investing in our development, especially in the reconstruction, modernization and construction of the power distribution grid and vital electric power facilities. We have invested more than 70 million convertible marks in these projects over the past twelve years that were realized in all 13 municipalities in the East Republic of Srpska. These investments contributed to the establishment of a stable power system for production and distribution of electricity, while, at the same time, supplying about 60,000 tariff customers with electricity. A very efficient electricity payment system has been established too, so that we are paid for all the electricity that we deliver. All this means that our business is stable in every aspect and that we are one of the companies that prove that energy is a development opportunity of the Republic of Srpska.
If you draw a comparison between how successful was the company when you took over the duties of director and how successful it is today, what would you single out as the biggest and most important progress?
– The main issue for any electricity distribution company, which is our core business, is how to improve the quality of our product delivery and how to minimize losses in the electricity distribution network. In late 2005, when I was appointed Director of Elektrodistribucija Pale, the company had 25.8 percent of losses in the electricity distribution network, which was a really high and unsustainable percentage. With such losses, the company could not function properly, and that is why we had an urgent task and an objective that I set 13 years ago to, together with the management team, reduce these losses to the lowest possible extent. We have accomplished this task and our goal has been met in its entirety.
How big are those losses today?
– They stand at 8.5% which is an excellent result. Our result analysis, covering the period from 2006 to date, has shown that the total reduction of losses amounts to around 400 million kilowatt hours which, in monetary terms, is around 50 million convertible marks. We are especially proud of this because we are talking about real savings and concrete money which enabled us to make new investments, expedite the company’s development and create new jobs.
Speaking of development opportunities, it seems that one of the milestones for Elektrodistribucija Pale was the management’s decision to use the natural resources in the area that the company covers, that is, the decision to realize capital investments in the field of electricity generation. Could you tell us more about this?
– We made this decision a few years ago, when we realized that we had the knowledge, experience, and expertise to make key development steps in the direction of creating new values that would bring significant benefits not only to our company and Elektroprivreda, but also to the entire Republic of Srpska. The idea was to take advantage of the existing natural resources and renewable energy sources and to expand our activities even further in terms of electricity generation. Thus, in 2015, the project of the construction of the Mesići-Nova hydroelectric power plant, on the Prača River in the Rogatica municipality, was launched. The construction of this hydroelectric power plant was the first and the best test of our expertise and ability to engage in electricity production. We passed this test with flying colours because the Mesići-Nova hydroelectric power plant was designed, built and put into operation in a record-breaking time.
What kind of results did this project bring?
– This is one of the most modern power plants, with 10 million convertible marks invested in its construction. Since its launch to date, this hydroelectric plant has fully realized its annual production plan, especially this year, when, due to the favourable hydrological situation, the annual plan was met in the first six months. In August of this year, we were pleased to announce that this investment made a full return, which is an outstanding result, especially given the fact that this facility is designed to produce electricity for at least another 70 years.
In the last two years, Elektrodistribucija Pale has implemented another similar investment, i.e. constructed the Bogatići-Nova hydro power plant in the municipality of Trnovo which was launched in early October. Could you elaborate?
– This is definitely the biggest electric energy project in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the last decade. Elektrodistribucija Pale invested around 18.5 million convertible marks in the construction of this plant which installed power is 9.96 MW, while the planned production is 41 GWh per year. We think that this investment will have a complete return in four to five years, because the hydroelectric power plant will generate about 4,860,000 convertible marks annually, which is certainly a significant revenue that gives us an exceptional potential for new investments and new jobs. The Bogatići-Nova hydroelectric power plant is one of the most modern hydropower plants in the region. The plant is fully automated and has a central management and control system that enables remote monitoring, production and management of production, which is a global standard in this field. If we are talking about the construction of this hydroelectric power plant, I must say that we, as a company that operates under the Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske Holding Company, is fully capable of implementing such projects. By completing this project, we have completely honoured our vision of being a strong regional, modern and socially responsible company, which is recognized as an example of safe and quality production and distribution of electricity, as well as a reliable supplier of electricity to our customers. We are really proud of this project that is expected to generate great results and a significant revenue both for our company, for this region and for Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske.
You have recently announced the implementation of another large-scale project, in cooperation with the Municipality of Pale and the Government of the Republic of Srpska. What is the project about?
– Indeed! We are trying to be a socially responsible company through the implementation of business projects. In this case, we are going to solve one of the burning problems that the population of the Municipality of Pale has, which is relocating the old, run down heating plant that pollutes the air in the town in winter. This large-scale project, worth around 20 million convertible marks, which we are implementing in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Srpska and the local community, entails relocating the heating plant from the town centre to the Famos – Koran industrial zone in Pale. Subsequently, we are going to build a new plant, which will simultaneously produce heat and electricity. This will be our contribution to the creation of environmentally clean Pale, which, together with the Olympic mountain of Jahorina, will become one of the most beautiful and most sustainable winter and summer tourist resorts in this part of Europe and the world in the near future.