Power supply will meet the anticipated surge in demand during the dry season this year, said Dang Huy Cuong, Director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam.

The authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade was prepared to tackle the falling output at hydropower plants due to prolonged drought in the Central Highlands and southern regions, he said. Gas-fuelled thermal power plants would operate at full capacity until July, which would provide over 4 billion kWh per month, in addition to over 3 billion kWh per month from coal-fueled thermal power plants.

According to Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), hydropower makes up about 40 percent of the country's electricity output. The water shortage at hydropower plants' reservoirs is currently almost 5.3 trillion cubic metres – meaning reduced output of 1.43 billion kWh.

This is critical as the dry season (April-June) is usually a peak time for power consumption.

The EVN calculated that total electricity output across the country during this period would be about 34.35 billion kWh, 11 percent higher than the same period last year.

In emergencies, the company plans to make use of more expensive power generating sources such as oil-fuelled power plants and imported electricity.

The EVN planned to mobilise over 1.1 billion kWh of power from FO or DO oils, which would substantially raise production costs: each kWh generated from oil costs 5,000-6,000 VND, while the current average power price is about 1,400 VND per kWh.

The southern region with major economic hubs such as HCM City, Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces would face more serious shortages, as no new power plants become operational there this year.

Director Cuong noted that since the beginning of this year, electricity supply has met demand for production and daily consumption.

A representative from EVN Hanoi told Kinh te & Do Thi (Economy and Urban Affairs) newspaper that the recent power cut in the capital was part of scheduled maintenance, rather than due to power shortages as in previous years.

The company does not yet have any plan to cut power this year, according to the representative.-VNA