Govt Promises to Meet Myanmar’s Rising Electricity Demand

By Zue Zue 15 November 2019

Yangon — The Ministry of Electricity and Energy is hoping to expand electricity access to half of the population by December, according to Deputy Minister U Khin Maung Win.

Of 10,877,832 households in Myanmar, 5,140,061 – or 47 per cent of the population – had access to electricity by October.

The deputy minister told the Upper House on Thursday that the ministry was looking to boost that to 50 per cent by next month.

Myanmar saw record high temperatures during the recent hot season, resulting in frequent power outages as hydropower failed to meet demand. Power outages have hit factories and transport and pushed up the cost of basic commodities, parliamentarian U Tun Tun Oo said.

“As electricity bills increased since July, people will want to have electricity around the clock next year. They want value for money,” said U Tun Tun Oo.

The deputy minister replied that the ministry could generate around 3.8 gigawatts (GW) this year, rising to 4.5GW next year.

U Khin Maung Win said seven power projects, with a combined capacity of almost 1.2GW, were being implemented.

Those projects included liquefied natural gas power plants, gas turbine power stations and a combined cycle plant in Yangon, Ayeyarwady, Tanintharyi and Magwe regions and Rakhine State.

The ministry was negotiating power purchase agreements with operators of the power plants and was installing power cables to link the output to the grid, he said.

The ministry was also renovating existing supplies to enable them to run at full capacity, said the deputy minister.

Electricity production increased from 17.3 billion units in 2016 to 19.4 billion in 2017 and 22 billion in 2018, he said. The ministry hoped to generate 23.2 billion in 2019 and up to 27 billion in 2020.

The ministry was also able to reduce breakdowns from 17 in 2016 to three in 2017, two in 2018 and one in 2019, said U Khin Maung Win.

The Ministry of Planning and Finance said the government supplied electricity to the public at a loss of 507 billion kyats in the 2017-18 fiscal year and 630 billion kyats in 2018-19.

The ministry, citing the losses, introduced new rates in July. Under the new rates, homes and religious buildings stay at 35 kyats per unit for up to 30 units. Consumers will be charged 50 kyats for using 31-50 units, 70 kyats for 51-75, 90 kyats for 76-100, 110 kyats for 101-150, 120 kyats for 151-200 and 125 kyats for over 201.

The World Bank report, “Myanmar Economic Monitor: Building Reform Momentum” released in June forecast that electricity consumption would increase by 11 percent annually until 2030.

Demand would reach 8.6GW in 2025 and 12.6GW in 2030, while current production was just 3.6GW, it estimated. To meet the growing demand, the government would need to invest US$2 billion a year, the report said.