Serbia: Reliable Electricity Brings Jobs

April 8, 2013

Over 19,000 citizens in the Arilje region of Serbia are benefiting from a new substation, built with World Bank support as part of the Energy Community of South East Europe Program. Overall, ten new substations were built in the country as a result of this project.

Vesna Kostic, Senior Communications Officer in the World Bank Belgrade Office

In the fall of 2010, fruit farmer Velibor Marinkovic cashed in his savings, took out a loan and invested almost US$40,000 in a cooling unit to keep his raspberries fresh until ready for shipping to wholesalers and retailers.

It seemed like a foolproof investment given that Marinkovic lives in the part of central Serbia renowned for its delectable raspberries, and that raspberries are popular. But Velibor did not factor in how unreliable the power supply was in his agricultural region.

"The first time we installed the equipment it was switching on and off every minute. The voltage was so weak that we couldn’t do anything. It was such so stressful for me, we invested so much and the cooling unit was empty. Some of the neighbors who counted on cooling raspberries in my unit felt the same," says Marinkovic.

He was not the only one affected by the unreliable electricity supply in the region.

" Almost every household in the region grows raspberries. In the height of the season there were often restrictions since consumption was high and the transmission system was weak. We would register a nine percent drop of the voltage so we had to deliver weaker electricity and to restrict supply "

Lazar Marjanović

General Manager, Arilje section of Elektrodistribucija (Serbian Electricity Distribution Company)

That drop became a thing of the past when a new and powerful distribution substation came online about an hour and a half from Marinkovic’s village, providing a stable electricity supply and enabling new transformer stations.

"I went to talk to people in Elektrodistribucija and to my utter surprise, within a week a new transformer station was built near our house. My neighbors and I picked about 30-40 tons of raspberries that season and kept them in my cooler until we sold them," explains Marinkovic.

Over 19,000 citizens in the Arilje region benefited from the new substation, built with World Bank support as part of the Energy Community of South East Europe Program. Overall, ten new substations were built in Serbia. "We originally planned to build five stations, but we managed to double the number with rational and efficient procurement," says Nikola Rakić, Procurement Officer in the Project Implementation Unit.

These substations are making power transmission safer, more efficient, plentiful and reliable for suppliers and consumers. And better, more reliable local infrastructure helps the broader development of the energy sector.

" We encountered huge difficulties. There were frequent restrictions, the voltage would drop and cause problems with equipment. When the electricity system shuts down, everything shuts down. That affected the quality of our raspberries, and with raspberries disappearing we were also disappearing. With the new substation it has all changed for the better. "

Nastas Milićević

Manager, Frukom

"The project helped us develop infrastructure which will enable new investments in the sector. It will also help Serbia's participation in regional energy markets and enhance energy security," explains Dragoslav Cicović, the leader of the Project Implementation Team.

All of these improvements are trickling down to delighted citizens and business owners. Frukom processes fruit for individuals and companies on modern equipment and depends entirely on the power supply.

Another change for the better is the investment that reliable power is bringing to Serbia, creating new and much needed jobs. The new substation near Indjija attracted seven new companies, from the internet company "IT Park" to Grunfos, a factory that makes water pumps.

And with a consistent supply of efficient and safe power, Serbia can build a solid foundation for its future economic development.


beneficiaries in the Arilje region, traditionally known for raspberry growing, have been impacted by the Energy Community of South East Europe Program - Serbia Project
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