Myanmar Regime Chief’s son Proposes Mandalay Solar Power Plant

By The Irrawaddy 19 January 2023

A company owned by Myanmar junta boss Min Aung Hlaing’s son, Aung Pyae Sone, has sought approval from the State Administration Council (SAC), the administrative body of the military regime headed by his father, to implement a solar power project in Mandalay Region’s Thazi Township.

Golden Future Linkage, a Naypyitaw-based company owned by Aung Pyae Sone, has proposed building a 40-megawatt solar power plant on a 230-acre plot of land in Thazi Township in partnership with a Chinese firm, China Energy Engineering Corporation Ltd (CEEC). A letter seeking the SAC’s approval was submitted in August last year.

The Irrawaddy has seen the letter, which reveals that the solar power plant is expected to take nine months to build and that the electricity generated will be sold at US$8.5 cents, or around 140 kyats, per one kilowatt-hour under the current, junta-controlled exchange rate of 2,100 kyats to the dollar. The unofficial exchange rate is around 2,850 kyats for a US dollar.

Aung Pyae Sone’s proposal was then sent by the SAC to the Mandalay Region government and the regime-controlled Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

One local electricity supplier said: “According to the procedure, private companies have to submit the proposal first to the [electricity] ministry and the relevant [region or state] government. Depending on the size of the project, [the region/state government] has to seek further approval from central government. But in this case, the central authorities handed the proposal down to lower-level authorities. So the lower-level authorities will not dare to examine his son’s company thoroughly.”

The offer by Aung Pyae Sone’s company to sell electricity at US$8.5 cents for one kilowatt-hour is also higher than the price quoted by foreign companies when they made bids for solar power projects last year at the invitation of the electricity ministry.

While western companies offered to sell electricity at US$7 cents per kilowatt-hour, some Chinese companies quoted prices between US$3.5 and 5.1 cents.

It remains unclear if the Ministry of Electricity and Energy has approved Aung Pyae Sone’s solar power proposal. Calls by The Irrawaddy to the permanent secretary of the electricity ministry and the managing director of the Electric Power Generation Enterprise went unanswered.

Last June, Venus Essential Co, in which Aung Pyae Sone also has shares, was awarded contracts to implement three solar power projects with a combined capacity of 390 megawatts. No other companies were invited to bid for the contracts.