Verbund sells shares of Austrian utility to focus on rehab and improvement efforts

An announcement from Verbund about the modernization of its 236.5-MW Ybbs-Persenbeug hydropower plant comes just days after the Austrian electricity company announced it had sold its share in utility Energie Klagenfurt GmbH.

Vienna-based Verbund announced earlier this month that it will sell its 49% share in EKG to Stadtwerke Klagenfurt, giving Stadtwerke sole ownership of EKG.

Verbund says the US$90.6 million deal is part of an initiative to emphasize its hydropower assets, primarily by way of its 430-MW Reisseck 2 pumped-storage facility and upgrades at its existing hydroelectric portfolio.

The company says its modernization efforts begin with the Ybbs-Persenbeug hydropower project, which will benefit from a seven-year, $186.4 million investment.

Built in the reconstruction phase after World War II, the Ybbs-Persenbeug plant is Verbund's oldest hydropower project on the Danube River and also one of the largest.

Even after some upgrades in 1996, however, the company says there is still more generating potential to be tapped.

"The modernization and increasing of efficiency have the utmost priority," says Verbund board member Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer. "The measures at the existing Ybbs-Persenbeug power plant enable us to significantly increase the production of electricity from hydropower – without having to structurally encroach upon the power plant surroundings."

Ultimately, Verbund says it will replace or refurbish the turbine blades, generators, transformers, high-voltage cables and circuit breakers, resulting in a 4.5% increase in the plant's efficiency.

"Ybbs-Persenbeug will be fit for at least another 60 years," Verbund Commercial Director Michael Amerer says.

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