Hydropower Fails to Deliver Sufficient Electricity in Shan State: MPs, Locals

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‘We have to consider an alternative way of generating electricity,’ says an MP, as available power is rotated between wards in the state capital of Taunggyi.

Hydropower plants
Photo by LK youth-

An insufficient and controversially sourced electricity supply has created inconveniences and safety concerns for people in Shan State during the hottest and driest time of the year.

Hydropower plants—widely opposed by the public for their environmental and social consequences—are frequently framed by business and government as a solution to insufficient energy infrastructure in Shan State. However, those hydropower plants that do not export electricity to neighboring countries are also generating an inadequate amount of electricity locally due to the low levels of water in dams that occurs in the annual hot, dry season.

The Myanmar Electricity Distribution Department announced that it has been rotating electricity distribution for Taunggyi’s wards for this reason; no one has a continual electricity supply, even in the state’s capital.

“Our country needs to change many things. We have to consider an alternative way of generating electricity rather than from hydropower dams or coal plants,” Shan Nationalities League for Democracy parliamentarian Sai Wan Liang Kham told SHAN. “I think the electricity shortage problem is also related to the distribution system,” he added, referring to faulty wiring and power cuts that accompany strong winds or lightning.

Securing new power sources while failing to fix the distribution system will create “a vicious cycle” of electricity shortages, the MP added.

A printing press owner in Taunggyi spoke to SHAN on the condition of anonymity about the current conditions, and the difficulties of earning a living with an unreliable power supply.

“Electricity distribution is rotating in Taunggyi… hour by hour. We cannot complete jobs on time, so we don’t want to accept jobs, because we can’t give back [the products] on time,” the individual explained, adding, “As a consequence, we cannot make money.”

SHAN called the Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation, which operates under the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, and representatives said they are “finding a balance” between electricity distribution and generation until the annual rains come.

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