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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nam Theun 2 begins sale of electricity to Thailand

Nam Theun 2, the largest hydroelectricity power plant in Laos, has begun exporting electricity to Thailand, creating a new major source of revenue for the landlocked nation.

The Nam Theun 2 Power Company yesterday announced it had begun the supply of 1,000MW of electricity to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand at commercial rates.
Four export production turbines at the 1,088MW power plant in the central province of Khammuan began full generation on Monday, the company said.
The sale of electricity generated by the plant to Electricite du Laos (EDL), a state-owned enterprise, has also begun.

Construction of the US$1.4 billion hydropower plant began in 2005. It was scheduled to begin delivering power to the Lao grid and for export to Thailand in December 2009. However, technical problems caused full operation to be postponed until early this year.
The Nam Theun 2 hydropower plant is considered to be a major source of revenue for the Lao government.

According to a report from the Nam Theun 2 Power Company, the plant is expected to generate average annual revenues of US$80 million for Laos in the form of taxes, royalty fees and dividends over the 25-year life of the concession. Over the period of operation, revenue will amount to more than US$2 billion.

The Lao government has made a firm commitment to spending these earnings on poverty elimination.

Investment in the power plant was made in the build-operate-transfer format, under which the shareholders will operate the facility for 25 years and then transfer it to the Lao government.
The shareholders are Electricité de France (35 percent), the government-owned Lao Holding State Enterprise (25 percent), the Electricity Generating Public Company of Thailand (25 percent), and the Italian-Thai Development Public Company of Thailand (15 percent).

Ministry of Energy and Mines officials say project developers plan to train Lao staff to replace foreign workers in managing the company and power plant. This will enable the government to operate the plant in 25 years' time.

Three other hydropower plants - the Nam Ngum 2 and Nam Lik 1-2 in Vientiane province, and the Nam Nhone plant in Luang Namtha and Bokeo provinces - are expected to start commercial operation this year.

At present, Laos has 10 hydropower plants that are operational. Another 17 plants are in the planning stage and 45 more are undergoing feasibility studies.
The government plans to turn Laos into the “battery of Asean” when the planned hydropower plants come on line in the future.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy (Latest Update March 18, 2010)

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