President’s €35.7M Hydropower Loan Plan Presented to Union Parliament

By Htet Naing Zaw 2 May 2019

NAYPYITAW—Deputy Minister for Electricity and Energy U Tun Naing presented President U Win Myint’s proposal to obtain €35.7 million (60 billion kyats) in loans from the French Agence Française de Développement (AFD), to be used for major repairs on five hydropower plants throughout Myanmar, to the Union Parliament on Tuesday.

The ministry said that hydropower plants, the main source of power production in Myanmar, are short of water due to rising temperatures across the country. The proposal comes at a time when the commercial capital Yangon and other major cities are experiencing frequent blackouts.

“After repairs, those plants will be able to produce an additional 81 million kilowatts in total per year,” said the deputy minister.

According to the ministry, the five hydropower plants to be repaired are the Ye Nwe and Zaung Tu power plants in Bago Region, the Mone Chaung power plant in Magwe Region, the Kin Tar power plant in Mandalay and the Thapan Seik power plant in Sagaing Region.

The renovations will be phased over five years and scheduled to be completed in 2024. The loan will have to be repaid in 20 years at an interest rate of 0.68 percent.

Hydropower plants need major repairs every 10 years, according to the deputy minister. However, these five hydropower plants have not been repaired in between 10 and 30 years, and thus cannot operate at full capacity.

Those plants can currently generate a combined 565 million kilowatts per year, but they lose 246 kilowatts per year due to emergency shutdowns forced by mechanical breakdowns, the deputy minister told the Parliament.

Once repaired, the plants will be able to produce 646 million kilowatts in total, he said.

In the past, some repairs required were beyond the former government’s budget, said Lower House lawmaker U Thant Zin Tun.

“These works must be done as the NLD (National League for Democracy) government fulfills the electricity demands as [ably] as it can,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The proposal earmarks €5.4 million for repair of the Ye Nwe power plant, €3.3 million for the Mone Chaung power plant, €16.4 million for the Zaung Tu power plant, €2.4 million for the Kin Tar power plant, €6.5 million for the Thapan Seik power plant and €1.7 million for the hiring of a consultancy firm for the projects.

“Those plants are like old buildings. Inferior [equipment] was bought [by the previous government] as there was no money,” said U Myat Thin Aung, chairperson of Hlaingtharyar Industrial Zone. “The government will earn more [from electricity bills] if electricity can be supplied round the clock. I support repairing with loans.”

Lawmakers wishing to debate the proposal are to register by May 3.