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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Electricity consumption soars in Xieng Khuang

The demand for electricity has almost doubled in the northern province of Xieng Khuang, due to a growth in processing factories and services.

The director of the provincial Energy and Mines Department, Mr Sountha Khounyotha, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that the demand for electricity has soared from 1.5 megawatts last year to 2.5 megawatts this year.

The province is now into the second phase of its electricity network expansion project, ensuring more and more families have access to the grid.

The second phase of the project began in 2005, and is expected to be completed in 2008. So far, the installation of electricity poles is complete, and cables are now being installed, Mr Sountha said.

The project has already expanded electricity to several focal development areas in the province.

Today, 34 percent of families in the province have access to electricity, which includes power from generators and solar power systems.

The province has 569 villages with a total of 37,803 families.

The province forecasts that at least half of these families will have electricity by 2009.

Provincial authorities plan to continue expanding the installation of solar power systems to rural communities, with the aim of improving the lifestyles of those who live in remote areas.

The province is preparing to install 400 solar power system sets in rural communities next month, with another 1,000 sets planned for installation next year.

Mr Sountha said the World Bank had provided financial support for the solar power project in the form of a loan.

The province intends to pay back the funds lent from the bank by collecting money from people who benefit from the project.

He said one solar power set cost about 2.8 million kip (US$300), and users must pay this money back within three to five years, according to their contract.

However, the province is also putting in great efforts to ensure more and more families have permanent future use through hydropower projects.

Many more hydropower projects are expected to go ahead in the province, including the Nam Ngum 5 and Nam Mor hydropower dam projects.

By Manichanh Pansivongsay
(Latest Update May 23, 2007)

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