SKOPJE (SeeNews) – The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)’s power transmission unit MEPSO said yesterday it has called an international tender for the import of 2,696,540 megawatt hours of electricity for the period between May 2006 and April 2007. «Additionally, some 169,000 MWh will be imported from Bulgaria’s power export monopoly NETC, which will be paying in electricity for the transmission line between Stip-Chervena Mogila,» MEPSO said in a statement sent to SeeNews. FYROM expects an 80 percent rise in power imports in 2006 to 2.994 billion kilowatt hours due to expected higher demand and lower domestic production, the country’s Economy Ministry said earlier. The country expects to produce 5.935 billion kWh of electricity in 2006, down by some 8 percent on the year, the ministry said. Total power consumption in 2006 is estimated at 8.929 billion kWh, up from 8.122 billion kWh in 2005. «The higher electricity demand will come from the expected launch of all production capacity at the Skopje-based RZ Topilnica ferroalloys mill, the introduction of new technology in the Feni ferro-nickel plant, as well as the full restart of operations in the Bucim copper mine,» the ministry said. In January MEPSO chose German group SAG to build a 400-kilovolt transmission line connecting FYROM’s eastern town of Stip and Bulgaria’s southwestern village of Chervena Mogila, co-financed by Bulgaria’s power exports monopoly NETC. The Bulgarian company said earlier it will repay the investment, secured by FYROM, with exports of electricity. FYROM, a country of 2 million people, imports some 40 percent of the energy it requires and faces serious challenges in its energy infrastructure, including insufficient linkages with its neighbors, according to a recently adopted government public investment strategy. Power generation, transmission and distribution in FYROM are controlled by three separate companies which emerged from the split-up of state-run power monopoly ESM at the beginning of 2005. FYROM power distribution company AD ESM is currently on sale. Four short-listed majors – Germany’s RWE, Austria’s EVN, Italy’s Enel and Czech CEZ – have to place their bids by March 15.