Mekong Utility Watch

Vietnam cranks up second largest hydro plant in test run

Deutsche Presse Agentur
March 28, 2000

HANOI — “In a move that is expected to appease Vietnam’s growing energy needs, the first trial run of the country’s second largest hydroelectric power plant went off without a hitch, officials said on Tuesday. All systems were up to scratch as the Yaly Hydropower Plant inaugurated the first of four turbine groups in a trial run late Monday, before the plant hooks up to the national power grid in late April, project officials said. The Russian-Ukrainian assisted facility will have a combined capacity of 720 megawatts when finished, producing 3.68 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, project Deputy CEO Mr Huynh No said.

Construction began in 1993 on the Yaly plant, located in the rugged Central Highlands region 450 km north of Ho Chi Minh City, and is expected to carry a final price tag of 626 million dollars when it is completed in 2001.

‘So far everything has been okay, but we are apparently behind schedule,’ Mr No said in a brief telephone interview. ‘The first turbine should have gone on line late last year, but the project encountered snags’, Mr No said, without elaborating. The second turbine group is slated for operation by year end. Mr No admitted (that) the project expects to encounter major unemployment problems when it lays off as many as 10,000 workers by the time the project reaches its conclusion.

Vietnam is dependent on hydrelectric power for 80 per cent of its electricity and is subject to regular power cuts during the dry season, with officials routinely encouraging urban centres such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to cut their private consumption.

The country’s premier power supplier, the Hoa Binh Hydroelectric dam outside Hanoi, in the north, supplies one quarter of the country’s total electric supply. The first of the Soviet-built dam’s eight turbines began operation in 1988, and the massive stricture was completed with great fanfare in 1994. Tens of thousands of workers were laid off from that project however, creating a near-crisis in regional labour markets until the state hired many of them for the Yaly project, Mr No said.

Categories: Mekong Utility Watch

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