A third of the street lights in the capital have been switched off after 11pm every night from April to at least June as part of a power-saving scheme, said deputy director of the Public Lighting Management Company Nguyen Ngoc Chien.

The switch off is partly conducted by automatic timing devices which were installed in one-tenth of all control stations in 2005. In the remaining stations, electricians use single-phase electricity, instead of three-phase electricity, he said.

"These methods will be applied to 2,000km of streets, saving 40 to 50 percent of power," Chien told the English-language daily Vietnam News on April 18.

Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Nguyen The Thao also requested lighting systems in parks to operate at half capacity.

Every office is being required to turn off their power system after work hours, to make best use of natural lighting and ventilation and only use air-conditioners when necessarily applicable, with thermostats set to at least 25 degrees Celsius.

The Hanoi Electricity Company will compile a report on energy consumption and compare them with figures from the same period last year to determine whether energy efficiency savings of 10 percent will be achieved.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will take responsibility for punishing offices that fail to comply with the saving-power scheme.

It is forecast that this will be a tough year for the power sector. A prolonged drought is likely to result in insufficient water being able to power hydro-electric turbines./.