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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Electricite du Laos works to address power cuts

Electricite du Laos, the country's main electricity supplier, plans to resolve the problem of recurrent power cuts in Vientiane by the end of this year.

The Deputy General Manager of Electricite du Laos, Mr Khammany Inthirath, said yesterday power cuts had been occurring repeatedly since April, due to the increasing demand for electricity which could not be met by the country's ageing system.

“We are replacing some cables in Vientiane and increasing the number of transmitters in areas where more electricity is being used,” he said.

Mr Khammany explained that as living standards are improving, more people can afford to buy electrical appliances, and the industrial sector is also growing.

The average monthly consumption of electricity in Vientiane is usually 50 million kwh, but since April it has increased to 80 million kwh.

“We will try to finish our system upgrades by the end of this year to meet these rising demands,” he said.

Mr Khammany said many of the power cuts had been due to repeated thefts of lightning conductor cables, which had damaged several transmitters. He urged the community to work hard to help prevent these thefts, by reporting any unusual activity in their areas.

In 2009, he said, Vientiane would be likely to experience further cuts, as several development projects were slated to begin in Xaythany district, and the company was working to solve this problem ahead of time.

Last year, Electricite du Laos spent around US$28 million enhancing the transmission capacity of all six electricity transformer stations in Vientiane , as well as upgrading the transmission current in the capital to prevent power cuts.

Mr Khammany said that during the dry season, several hydropower dams had reduced capacity because of lower water levels, which had resulted in the country having to buy back power from Thailand .

He added that the cost of imported power was almost the same as the revenue from exported electricity, which meant that no profit was made from these dams.

Electricity from Nam Leuk, Nam Ngum and Nam Mang dams will be used only in Vientiane , while the provinces of Borikhamxay, Savannakhet and Khammuan will use electricity from the Nam Theun 2 project.

He said the country definitely had the potential to reach its goal of becoming the ‘battery of Asia '.

“According to our surveys, there is room for the development of 70 more hydropower dams in the future, with a combined capacity of 23,000 MW,” Mr Khammany said.

“But we need to protect the environment by conserving our forests, particularly in watershed areas so that hydropower projects will have enough water to produce electricity. We have already committed to exporting 5,000 MW of electricity to Thailand by 2015, and we have to work hard to fulfil this commitment.”

Laos plans to build 29 dams by 2020, and most of the electricity produced will be exported to other countries.


By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest update June 27, 2007)
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/Previous_148/Current/Current_Electricite.htm

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