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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   9  November 2010

Vietnamese hydroelectric plant rolls out

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Son La Hydroelectric Power Plant, the biggest of its kind in southeast Asia, will generate electricity with its first turbine group early next month, investors and contractors confirmed in talks with deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai yesterday.

Hai, head of the Son La Hydroelectric Project National Steering Committee chaired a review session in Son La Province.

The project reservoir has stored water to the level of almost 190 meters, which will prove sufficient to begin electricity generation, according to the Prime Minister's special envoy and deputy head of the committee, Thai Phung Ne.

In the meantime, construction of turbine groups and disbursement for the project were not far behind schedule, the session heard.

So far, most of the affected population in Son La, Lai Chau and Dien Bien provinces that lived below the 195 meter level have been relocated.

Overall planning for the resettlement zone has already received the prime ministerial green light, while relocated households have been allocated arable land.

Subcontractors are accelerating construction, including pouring 70,000 cubic metres of concrete and installing more than 2,700 tonnes of equipment.

By the second quarter of next year, it is hoped the main structures will be complete, with turbine groups two, three and four operational by April, August and December 2011.

However, general director Pham Le Thanh of investors Electricity of Viet Nam complained about delays in land clearance in the neighbouring provinces of Phu Tho, Vinh Phuc, Thai Nguyen, Bac Giang and Hoa Binh where facilities will be built, connecting Son La Hydro-electric Power Plant with the national grid.

Deputy Prime Minister Hai cited the closing of culverts, water storage, construction of flood-prevention structures and a successful appraisal as major landmarks for the project.

He praised Son La, Dien Bien and Lai Chau provinces for completing the relocation of 99.84 percent of affected households over recent years.

He asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to map out a plan for the relocated population.

Hai also agreed with a provincial petition to extend the food subsidy programme for affected people for an additional year.

Turbine Group One will supply almost 10 million kwh per day, according to the investor. Construction on Son La Hydro-electric Power Plant was started five years ago in Son La Province's Muong La District with a design capacity of 2,400MW and a total investment of more than VND42 trillion (US$2 billion).

The entire project is planned for completion in 2015. Once finished, it will add more than 10 billion kWh a year on average to the national grid.

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