Azerenerji chief fired after July blackout

Etibar Pirverdiyev, who headed Azerenerji since 2001, will be replaced by Baba Rzayev of Azerishig

On 4 September, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev


two executive orders, dismissing Etibar Pirverdiyev as head of Azerenerji and appointing Balababa Rzayev in his place.

On 3 July, an accident


at Azerbaijan’s largest power plant – the Mingachevir hydroelectric power station – resulting in a power outage across the country. The blackout occurred during a record heat wave in Baku, with temperatures up to 44 degrees Celsius that day. It also disrupted the operation of water treatment plants on the Kur river, leaving residents of Baku without running water.

President Ilham Aliyev criticized Etibar Pirverdiyev and accused him of being unable to manage the industry he was in charge of. Pirverdiyev had led Azerenerji since November 2001.

Energy security expert Ilham Shaban


at the time that Azerenerji’s electric capacity was enough for Azerbaijan itself and even for export.

“The problem is with the organizational aspects of the management of stations,” Shaban said. “Throughout so many years of operation, a prompt system to transfer capacities to other electric stations was not organized. Emergency systems at stations do not work although they are supposed to start operating and immediately supply electricity to strategic facilities.”

Osman Gunduz, the director of the NGO Multimedia Center,


that Azerenerji had been aware of the need for substantial repairs on electricity unit number six at the power station in Mingachevir where the accident took place. Replacement of the unit had been envisaged in Azerenerji’s strategic roadmap. But it never was repaired.

Over the past five years Azerenerji has received about a billion manats from the state budget. The government has spent about $ 4 billion to modernize the country’s electricity generation and distribution grid since 1998.

The new head of Azerenerji, Balababa Rzayev (better known simply as Baba Rzayev), was until now the head of another major Azerbaijani energy provider, Azerishig. He is a member of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP).

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