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Thursday, May 29, 2008

EDL considers prepaid accounts

Electricite du Laos (EDL), the largest electricity supplier in Laos , plans to introduce a new system requiring customers to pay for their electricity in advance.

EDL Acting Managing Director, Khammany Inthirath yesterday confirmed the state-owned enterprise was developing the new system in response to customers failing to pay their bills.

He said a large number of customers were late making payments, but he could not say how much money was owed to the company in unpaid accounts.

According to an electricity official, many customers pay bills once every few months, instead of immediately after the bills are issued. This negatively affects the company's cash flow.

Mr Khammany said the new system would enable EDL to collect money from consumers in advance, which would prevent customers accumulating large debts.

“We will do a test and then we will decide whether we will introduce the new system or not,” he said.

“The prepaid electricity system is widely used in our neighbouring countries of Thailand and Vietnam .”

EDL Deputy Managing Director Mr Savath Phoumalavanh the new system would also address customer dis putes about how much electricity was used each month.

Many people have filed complaints, saying staff collected incorrect data from their electricity meters and charged them for using more electricity than they really used.

He said the new electricity payment system would operate in a similar way to the prepaid mobile phone system, which requires customers to buy prepaid cards.

He said EDL was considering introducing the prepaid system in the four major provinces of Vientiane , Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champassak in September.

EDL would like to establish the new system with state organisations and major industrial units first. Initially the new system would be optional, but once it is fully operational consumers will not be able to access the electricity supply without a prepaid card. The prepaid cards will be sold in many places, like prepaid cards for mobile phones.

New electricity meters will also need to be installed if the new payment system is introduced.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy. (Latest Update May 30 , 2008)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Xieng Khuang villages to power up Khonesavanh Latsaphao

Residents of Kham district, Xieng Khuang province, will be connected to the national electricity grid next month, a provincial official said on Monday.

Kham's central market has already been connected to the network and the remainder of the town will receive electricity supply by the end of next month, said an official from the Xieng Khuang provincial branch of Electricite du Laos, Mr Visien Sisamak.

“Connection to the electricity grid ensures residents will be able to use electricity at all times of the day and night. So, we are very pleased to deliver electricity to the people here,” he said.

At present, locals source power from a small hydropower station but the electricity generated is not sufficient to meet families' needs.

Because the dam used by the power station is so small, it cannot create sufficient energy for everyday use. In fact, it takes a whole day to build up and release the energy required for households' nightly use,” Mr Visien said.

“People only have electricity from 7 to 11 pm,” he said.

Some people have installed generators in their homes to ensure they can have electricity throughout the day, but they cannot use this power for cooking purposes. Generators are easy to obtain in local markets, but the increasing price of fuel means they are becoming expensive to run.

Kham district consists of 120 villages, but not all of them will be connected to the electricity grid. Only people living in the largest urban centres will have access to the network, Mr Visien said.

According to Electricite du Laos, the government is in the process of expanding the national electricity grid into the rural areas, where about 80 percent of the population lives. At present 43 percent of people living in rural areas have access to electricity.

By Vientiane Times
(Latest Update May 27, 2008)

Thailand, Laos agree to build dams in Mekong river

(KPL) Thailand and Laos have signed agreements to construct three dams where the Mekong river passes through Ubon Ratchathani, Nong Khai and Loei provinces, said Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on May 25.
According to VNA, once completed, the three dams will help retain water in the Mekong river, enabling Thai and Lao villagers who live on both sides of the river to have sufficient water for the whole year, PM Samak added.
He said he believed in the feasibility of the idea of diverting water from the Nam Ngum river in Laos through underground pipelines to feed Thailand 's northeastern people, for the reason that the Lao river is located on a higher ground than Thailand 's northeastern region.
The Thai PM also revealed a government project to divert water from the Mekong river to feed the water-starved northeastern region.
Water from the Mekong river in Chiang Khan district of Loei province would first be diverted for storing at Ubolratana Dam in Khon Kaen for agricultural production. The two provinces are 80 kilometres apart.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sino interests in substitute energy investment in Laos

(KPL) China expressed interests in investment of substitute energy sector and the establishment of slaughterhouse in Laos.
The intention was made during a Chinese delegation from Song Jing City of China.
Mr Vang Chi Qaung who led the Economic-Commercial Relation delegation of Song Jing City, said during called on Mr Anouphap Tounalom, new Deputy Vientiane Mayor, on 15 May, Vientiane Capital.
Mr Qaung, Deputy of Foreign Economic-Commercial Relation Department of Song Jing City and his delegation paid a working visit to Laos between 11 and 16 May.
In 2004, Song Jing businesspeople have invested in animal raising and agriculture and rice seeds production.
The Chinese delegation has informed the result of investment in Laos yielded a great accomplishment in agriculture and forestry cooperation between Song Jing and Vientiane Capital.
The sides have pledged to further existing bilateral cooperation.
The visit of delegation was warmly welcomed by Mr Anouphap who has also expressed congratulation for the past implementation of bilateral cooperation.
He highly valuated Chinese investment in Laos and cooperation between two nations in order to boost cooperation between the agriculture and forestry sector of Vientiane and Song Jing as well as Laos and China.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lao company to market Chinese LED lights

New energy-efficient lights, powered by renewable energy sources, are now available in Laos after a business partnership was formed between a local company and a Chinese company.

On Friday, Phongsavanh Telecommunication Spare Parts Supply and Feng Huo Ji Tuan Co (from the Chinese Shaanxi province) signed a 10-year agreement to exclusively market and distribute the Chinese-made goods in the local market.

Phongsavanh Telecommunication Spare Parts Supply General Manager Lee Tian said the LED lights were designed to use solar and wind based power and were environmentally friendly.

These products would be popular with Lao customers because they can save up to 80 percent more energy than lights currently available, he said.

Lights fuelled by solar energy can be used to light roads, homes, gardens, schools and public places where there is strong sunshine. When the sun shines, it charges the battery and at night the light will turn on automatically.

Lights fuelled by wind can be installed in areas where there are strong winds, such as areas in northern Laos .

Mr Tian said LED lights would replace conventional lights in the near future because they saved energy and were cheaper to run.

He said the lights were produced in China with modern technology and met international standards.

The company plans to invest in the establishment of an LED light manufacturing factory in Laos to sell the good domestically and abroad, but Mr Tian could not confirm when this might happen.

Feng Huo Ji Tuan Co General Manager Li Yuan Jun said Laos was an attractive market for the products because the country had strong sunshine, and also strong winds in areas of northern Laos such as Xieng Khuang province.

The company will target customers in rural areas where electricity from the national power grid is not accessible.

President of Phongsavanh Group, Mr Oth Phongsavanh, attended the signing ceremony.

By Vientiane Times

(Latest Update May 19, 2008)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Three power plants delay export

(KPL) Developers of three hydropower plants have made a proposal to the government to put off the export of electricity generated by them one year after the original plan.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mining, the three power plants included Nam Ngum III, Nam Theun I and Nam Ngieb I.
Nam Ngum III and Nam Theun I have proposed the delay from 1 January 2013 to 1 January 2014 and Nam Ngieb I from January 2014 to January of 2015.
The director of the Energy Commerce and Promotion Department, Mr. Saypaseuth Phomsoupha, said that the developers of the investment projects have faced difficulties and cannot generate electricity by the schedule.
"The obstacles include the concession agreements which have not yet been reached and the study on the installation of a 150-kv transmission line from Nabong to Thinthene to be done by parties concerned."
The three projects of Nam Ngum III, Nam Theun I and Nam Ngieb I are investment proposals by GMS Lao, GAMUDA Berhad and KANSAI Electric Power.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Japanese firm to conduct hydropower study in Xekong

The Department of Electricity agreed last week to employ a Japanese consulting company, New Jec Inc, to carry out a feasibility study of the Houay Lamphan Gnai Hydropower project in Xekong province in the south of Laos .

Mr Viraphonh Viravong ( left ) shakes hands with Dr Masayoshi Yamashita after signing the agreement. --Photo Sisay

The World Bank has provided the department with US$990,000 to hire the co mpany.

The agreement between the department and company was signed last Thursday at the Lao Plaza Hotel in Vientiane . It was signed by Director General of the Electricity Department Viraphonh Viravong and Managing Director of New Jec Inc Dr Masayoshi Yamashita.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines, Mr Somboun Rasasombath, and officials from both sides.

The study will begin on May 25 and the company has agreed to complete the work in eighteen months.

The hydropower project is located in Thateng district, and has a proposed installed capacity of about 60MW. The dam will generate electricity for both domestic use and export to Cambodia .

The dam site is situated in the Houay Lamphan stream, which flows into the Xekong River .

Initial surveys for a hydropower plant at this site have been conducted several times since 1970, but the information used to make the calculations was obtained from maps of the area.

Surveyors did not collect information in the field relating to specific geological data and the precise geographic location of the dam and watercourses, a press release from the department said.

From the end of 2005 until the start of 2006, the World Bank provided assistance for a power import and export study. This examined the feasibility of exporting hydropower from the south of Laos to Strung Treng province in Cambodia and the supply of hydropower to the southern Lao provinces.

The study also included a pre-feasibility study of the Houay Lamphan Gnai Hydropower Project.

To implement the project as a public-private partnership, in 2007 the Ministry of Energy and Mines asked for assistance fro m the World Bank to undertake a full technical feasibility study.

The selection of a consulting company to undertake the study began in May last year.

By Manichanh Pansivongsay
(Latest Update May 12, 2008)