Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Third High-Level Energy Forum

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Third High-Level Energy Forum, March 20, 2018

Good morning everyone, it’s a pleasure to be here today.  Thank you Prime Minister Haradinaj, fellow partners, and all of you for participating today.

There are few issues more critical to Kosovo’s future than a secure, reliable, and independent energy supply and a diversified energy market.  Right now energy insecurity is costing Kosovo’s economy about €335 million a year, and that’s just not sustainable for any country.  But the cost is much broader than even that staggering sum conveys — we all saw a few weeks ago how high the stakes really are when Kosovo experienced rolling black-outs, and a deviation with the European grid literally slowed time.

But we are making progress.  Just a year ago, at the 2nd energy forum, I noted that 2017 would be a pivotal year for Kosovo’s energy sector.  And it has been a pretty momentous 12 months.

Last December, we saw the successful commercial close on Kosova e Re, the largest foreign investment in Kosovo’s history.  Once completed, it will create a new, highly efficient plant utilizing the best available technologies and conforming to EU emission standards.  This was a huge milestone in addressing Kosovo’s need for power generation, but it’s certainly not the end of the journey.  It’s essential for the Government of Kosovo to ensure that Kosova e Re moves forward to financial close and to make good on the commitments made in December.

KEK has done a commendable job of following international standards to address the difficult resettlement issue, which took considerable time, patience, and dedication, and which now paves the way for new generation.  And of course the Millennium Challenge Corporation Threshold Agreement with Kosovo is poised to make significant investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

There’s a lot more to get done of course.  Kosovo needs to control its own energy borders as an intrinsic step towards energy security, free from external interference. Major investment is needed to rehabilitate Kosovo B to secure a new 30 year life extension, fully compliant with EU environmental standards.  The Government needs to make a decision now on how to manage future mining operations, whether through privatization, outsourced management, or continued KEK ownership.  And it’s essential that Kosovo’s renewable targets find a balance between ambition and an undue burden on the consumer.

Each of these is essential, but none is sufficient on its own. New generation is vital but can’t secure Kosovo’s electricity supply by itself.  Investments in existing infrastructure and efficiency must occur but don’t help Kosovo modernize.  And much-needed investments in renewables and energy diversification take time and so can’t provide for Kosovo now.

In all these challenge, the United States will continue to be your partner, as we have for the better part of the last 20 years.  I’m very proud of our efforts to support the privatization of KEDS, to help build the capacity of the ERO, to make investments in the human capital of the energy sector – particularly in addressing the gender imbalance, to help KOSTT in regional integration efforts, and to support clean energy project development.

Of course, the US has not been alone in supporting Kosovo’s power sector and I am delighted to see so many of our international partners here as well.

Before I go, I want to mention one more thing.  Today I’ve touched on a lot of the complexity and the challenges facing the sector, but let me tell you why I’m an energy sector optimist.  Just a few weeks ago I met with an outstanding group of young energy interns, just starting out in the field, filled with intellect and ambition and energy – and brimming with the new ideas every industry needs to stay competitive.  These are Kosovo’s future energy experts, and as I talked with them, it was impossible not to believe that Kosovo’s energy sector will rise to the challenge.

I know there’s a lot more to be done, but I commend you for everything that Kosovo has achieved already, and I thank you for the opportunity today to recommit ourselves to all the good work that lies ahead.