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Xayaboury dam on track to start commercial operation at year’s end

The Xayaboury hydropower plant yesterday began a trial operation of its fifth generator, setting the first run-of-river dam in the lower Mekong basin on track to begin commercial operation at the end of this year.
A senior official at the Xayaboury Energy and Mines Department said yesterday the trial run of the dam’s fifth generator began on July 17.

The trial operation of other generators took place earlier this year as part of preparations for full commercial operation. The hydro plant has eight generators in total.
“If everything goes as planned, full commercial operation of the Xayaboury dam will kick off at the end of this year,” said the official, who acts as a coordinator between the project developers and the government.
Deputy Director of the Xayaboury Energy and Mines Department, Dr Xayphone Bounsou, said yesterday the department had issued a notice to inform people living upstream and downstream of the dam of the possible impacts of the generator trial.
The notice said the exercise would cause sudden changes in the water level upstream and downstream of the dam from July 15 to 29. The water level will return to normal once the trial run of the generator is complete.
The notice was intended to keep local residents informed about developments so they could take steps to accommodate the change in water levels.
Construction of the Xayaboury hydropower plant began in 2012 after the government completed the prior consultation process in line with the 1995 Mekong Agreement.
The plant has an installed generation capacity of 1,258MW and is expected to generate 7,370 GWh annually. Most of the power generated will be sold to Thailand.
The government expects to earn US$3.9 billion from the operation of the dam throughout the 29-year concession period, including US$1.897 billion in royalties and US$637 million in taxes.
The government has pledged to use this money to fund poverty reduction programmes and infrastructure development so that Laos can catch up with other countries in terms of overall development.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update July 18, 2019)

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