Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bolivia Nationalizes Two Spanish-owned Electrical Utilities

Bolivia nationalizes 2 Spanish-owned electrical utilities

Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:31AM GMT

Bolivia has nationalized two electrical utilities owned by Spain, following a decree by President Evo Morales.

On Saturday, the Bolivian president announced that the South American country nationalized the two utilities, which belonged to Iberdrola, Spain’s largest energy group.

Morales stated that the measure was taken in an effort to enhance rural energy services in the country.

“We considered this measure necessary to ensure equitable energy tariffs ... and to see to it that the quality of electricity service is uniform in rural as well as urban areas,” he said.

He also said Iberdrola would be compensated after a valuation is drawn up by an independent arbiter.

The two utilities, which are called Electropaz and Elfeo, are located in capital La Paz and in Oruro, 370 kilometers (230 miles) south of the capital, respectively.

Iberdrola’s office in La Paz was guarded by police forces on Saturday.

According to AFP, police seized the offices and took control of the power plants later.

An Iberdrola spokesman told Reuters that the company was investigating the situation, but he did not comment any further.

Iberdrola, which is a Spanish private multinational electric utility based in Bilbao, has operated in Bolivia since the late 1990s.

In May, a subsidiary of another Spanish power group, the Red Ectrica Corporacion, was nationalized in the country.

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