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Friday, October 19, 2007

Govt body to regulate energy facilities

Compliance with the Lao Electrical Power Technical Standard (LEPTS) will soon be assured at power facilities across the country through the establishment of a new regulatory body.

“The LEPTS regulatory unit is key to securing the sustainable implementation of the standard,” said the First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy to Laos , Mr Ken Nakamura, at a launch seminar for the unit in Vientiane last week.

He added that having the unit would accelerate compliance to the standard by electricity companies.

“I would like all electrical facilities to apply the LEPTS in the near future,” Mr Nakamura said.

Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines, Mr Somboun Rasasombath, commented that compliance with the standard would contribute to the improvement of investment transparency in Laos .

At the seminar participants took part in activities related to the implementation of the standard, including examining example documents and learning to inspect facilities.

“This will enable us to provide electricity to the people of Laos and to neighbouring countries safely,” Mr Somboun said.

There are currently over 30 independent power producer projects at various stages of planning and construction in Laos , the biggest being Nam Theun 2.

“I hope the LEPTS will be applied to these projects under the guidance of the regulatory unit,” said Mr Nakamura.

The standard will also apply to domestic power transmission equipment, such as the 115kV transmission line from Pakxan district in Borikhamxay province to Pakbo village in Savannakhet province.

“This project, which will comply with LETPS, has a significant role in extending the national grid,” said Mr Somboun.

The launch of the regulatory unit was a defining moment as it was the first time a permanent official body in the Lao government had been established in accordance with technical assistance from another country, in this case the Japanese government.

Mr Nakamura said that electricity was a driving force for development in Laos , and the energy sector has two important roles in exporting electricity to the region and satisfying growing domestic needs.

Step 1 of the project to formulate standards in the power industry began in 2000 and ended in 2003, and saw the compilation of manuals detailing the standards, in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The standard came into effect in February 2004. The second step, again supported by JICA, was to develop capacity, improve documentation and establish the regulatory body. Work on this phase began in January 2005 and will be complete in March next year.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update October 16, 2007)

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