Myanmar revives power line plan

16 August 2016, Week 32, Issue 370

Myanmar’s new government is reviving abandoned plans for a 400-km transmission cable to link the country’s eastern region and will approach the ADB for support.

The cable would connect Dawei, site of a proposed new port and industrial zone, with Mawlamyine, Myanmar’s fourth largest city, which was formerly called Moulmein.

The government, which took office in January, will seek funding for the transmission line from the ADB, the Myanmar Times reported, quoting Energy Minister Pe Zin Tun in a parliamentary statement.

Myanmar’s previous government had sought loans from China’s Export-Import Bank but the two sides failed to agree on an interest rate for the estimated US$180 million loan needed, the Times said.

“The new Ministry of Planning and Finance, however, has calculated that the project should cost US$103.4 million based on interest-free funding [from the ADB],” the paper said.

The ADB said energy improvements were a key element of its support for Myanmar’s development but declined to comment on the eastern region transmission line report.

The ADB has backed other electricity infrastructure projects in Myanmar and is working with the private sector “to increase the country’s power generation capacity,” the Times said.

Myanmar has a generating capacity of less than 6,000 MW for a population of 52 million and only about 25% of the country is linked to grid electricity.

The main grid system operates in a central corridor between the two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay. Blackouts occur frequently in the two cities and one of the biggest problems is ageing infrastructure equipment which causes high levels of power loss, Mizzima business magazine said. Many businesses stay in operation with back-up diesel generators.

Plans for two coal-fired power plants in eastern Myanmar in the Dawei-Mawlamyine region are meeting strong opposition from local communities complaining about pollution risks and land losses. Coal for the plants, planned by firms from China and Thailand, would have to be imported by sea, Mizzima said.

The biggest of these is a 1,280-MW proposed project near the town of Ye by the Bangkok-based Toyo-Thai Group.v

Edited by

Richard Lockhart

Editor

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