Despite investor interest, no power projects yet in Chin State

Although companies have shown a keen interest in power projects in Chin State, no project has been implemented yet, said Dr. Min Zaw Oo, the director of the Chin State’s Office of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

“The Chin State government is prioritizing hydropower investments. But the projects have many phases, processes, and business risks which are hindering project implementation for now,” said Dr. Min Zaw Oo.

In the two years of the present term of the Chin State government, the hydropower generation sector has been ranked first by investors planning to invest in the state. At least 7 companies from China, Japan, and Norway have expressed their interest to conduct feasibility studies for power projects in the state, according to a research report on the opportunities and challenges for local business development in the state.

Potential sites for hydropower projects have been identified on the Laymyo River near Kophayshay village of Thandaung area in Paletwa Township, with an estimated capacity of 600 megawatts, and on the Manipur River in Falam Township, with an estimated capacity of 380 megawatts. Possible sites for medium-scale electric power projects, with a capacity of 10 to 30 megawatts, and small-scale projects, with capacity below 10 megawatts, have been identified in Matupi, Mindat, Thantlang, Tiddim, and Tonzang towns. Additionally, a possible site for a wind power project has been identified in Tiddim.

“Power supply has reached most of the big townships, but the small townships and villages still don’t have access to electricity. Providing power to the entire state can result in a loss of revenue for the government and economic losses for investors. There are many potential sites for power generation in Chin State. But the sites are located near small villages with 100-200 households. Due to this, the return of capital can pose an impediment to investors. It is hard for them to take that risk. Also, the government cannot hike electricity prices for power produced in the state,” said Dr. Min Zaw Oo.

According to the research report on opportunities and challenges for regional business development, electricity is priced low and so it takes a long time for investors to get returns on capital. There are a slew of challenges and risks to investments in the state. There is no power generation department in the regions and states, including Chin State. Therefore, the regions and states cannot implement projects on their own without approval of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

According to the Electricity Law 2014, regions and states can allow 30 megawatt projects, but the projects must not be connected with the national grid. As investors have to seek approval from the state government and the Ministry of Electricity and Energy to set up power projects which transmit power to the national grid, investments for such projects get hindered.

Source: Global New Light of Myanmar

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