Government exploring ways to fast-track rural electrification
The government is set provide electricity to every rural household in the country by end of this year. This is much ahead, as envisioned in Bhutan Vision 2020.
As of 2016 Bhutan had 99.5 percent rural electrification coverage. Currently Lingzhi in Thimphu, Lunana in Gasa, and Jigmecholing in Sarpang Dzongkhag are the only gewogs that are not connected to hydro- electricity.
Electricity helps rural communities and benefits farmers to complete their work on time. It shares the burden of the farmers in terms of finance, resources and time among others. This, in turn, is expected to improve the living standard with machineries and electric kitchen utensils and other necessary household items.
Bhutan Power Corporation Limited ( BPCL), in its annual report 2016, stated that the company will continue to meet requests and requirements for new connections emanating from rural electrification fill- ins for new households. The corporation expects to achieve electricity for all.
The corporation that was entrusted to light up 40,257 households with the on- grid electrification by 2013 was able to achieved 94 percent coverage. The report states that the corporation tried its best to meet the target.
However, it was not without challenges because of geographical terrains and scattered work sites which made their work difficult. “The severe working conditions made it difficult to recruit and retain laborers at the work sites.” The reports stated, “In some cases, BPC did not receive required support from the community, which further delayed the progress of rural electrification.”
The shifting and relocating of the existing lines at all village levels are some of the major challenges in pursuit of expanding its infrastructure network system and to provide uninterrupted and reliable power supply.
According to the report, BPC as part of the system improvement works undertakes continuous investments for system expansion. It is to improve sup- ply reliability, meet the increasing demand for power, improve safety and reduce energy loss.
Some of the power expansion works are construction of substation in Dagapela, construction of double circuit transmission line from Kanglung to Phuntshothang, Phuntshothang to Motanga and Motanga to Nganglam.
In 2016, BPC also signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Electric Power Corporation Electricity Generating Authority and Metropolitan Electricity Authority in Thailand, and Asian Institute of Technology to develop technical and business cooperation.
The demand for the electricity consumption for domestic purpose has been steady and the peak demand recorded was more than 335 Million Units ( MU). BPC today has about 177,151 customers.
Last year, BPCL sold 2,008 MU of energy which is 7.38 percent less than the previous year and exported 5,779 MU energy. Its profit after tax amounted to 1.54 billion in 2016.
Rural electrification project is under challenges because of geographical terrains and scattered work sites which made their work difficult.