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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Champassak to stop using Thai electricity next year

Champassak province will stop buying electricity from Thailand in 2009, according to Champassak Provincial Electricity Department Deputy Manager, Mr Khoune Bouaphengphanh.

“We will produce enough electricity for domestic use once the new Xexet 2 hydroelectric power station is complete,” he said.

When the plant begins operating it will supply all of Champassak's power demands, as well as generating electricity for the southern provinces of Attapeu, Saravan, Xekong, and Savannakhet.

“At present the province buys electricity from Thailand during the dry season from November to March, because we cannot generate enough for our use at this time of the year,” Mr Khoune said.

“The Xexet 2 plant began construction in 2005 and when it is finished in 2009 we will have electricity all year round and can sell it to the four provinces nearby.”

There are 10 districts in Champassak province, and more than half of the 926 villages receive electricity from the provincial branch of Electricite du Laos.

The branch plans to expand the grid system in rural areas to reach another 119 villages over the next six years, with funds allocated from the World Bank, according to Mr Khoune.

By 2010, the provincial electricity department expects the grid will reach 70 percent of villages in Champassak province.

Mr Khoune said an ambitious goal for Laos would be to provide electricity to 75 percent of rural families by 2020. Currently 80 percent of the Lao population lives in rural areas, but only 43 percent of these people have access to electricity.

Solar panels are becoming important assets for poor families who cannot yet access the national electricity grid, he said. Champassak province is located in southern Laos and shares borders with Thailand and Cambodia.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update July 15, 2008)

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