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Tajikistan dams river to begin building 670-MW Sangtuda 1

Tajikistan started damming a major mountain river December 15 to build the US$500 million, 670-MW Sangtuda 1 hydroelectric project.

Engineers used a series of explosions to block the Vakhsh River for Sangtuda 1, which the former Soviet republic is building with Russian electricity monopoly Unified Energy System (UES).

The Sangtuda plant is to produce 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours a year after it reaches full capacity, officials said. A UES subsidiary will own 75 percent of the plant, and the Tajik government will control the rest.

The project is due to start producing electricity next year and reach full capacity in 2009.

After the river-closing action, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov said the plant �will help Tajikistan cover its domestic energy deficit."

The mountainous nation, which has some of the world's largest hydro resources, has long experienced electricity shortages. This year shortages were particularly severe due to supply disruptions at the Soviet-era's 3,000-MW Nurek hydro plant, also on the Vakhsh River, which supplies most of the country's electricity. (HNN 11/14/06)

Experts believe Tajikistan has the potential to produce up to 520 billion kWh a year. (HNN 12/4/06)

Power Machines of Russia received an US$80 million contract in January to supply three turbine-generators for Sangtuda. UES was named general contractor to complete construction.

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