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Tajikistan begins operation of 670-MW Sangtuda 1

Tajikistan officials opened the Russian-built 670-MW Sangtuda 1 hydroelectric project January 20, hailing it as a step towards solving Tajikistan's energy crisis.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of Sangtuda 1, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon said the project's additional capacity would help avoid crises such as the current coldest winter in decades. Millions of Tajiks struggled to survive without heat and electricity as temperatures plunged below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) across the mountainous nation north of Afghanistan.

"This year's winter has proved the necessity of solving Tajikistan's energy problems as quickly as possible," Rakhmon said.

The US$500 million plant, its construction financed by Russian electricity company Unified Energy Systems, is due to reach full capacity of 2.7 million kWh later this year.

The Leningradsky Metallichesky Zavod unit of Russian hydro equipment supplier Power Machines is building four of the turbine-generators for Sangtuda 1 under a contract valued at US$100 million. The first 165.7-MW turbine runner was shipped to Tajikistan from St. Petersburg, Russia, in July 2007. (HNN 7/25/07)

Tajikistan started damming the Vakhsh River for the project in December 2006. The former Soviet republic is building the plant with UES. A UES subsidiary will own 75 percent of the plant, and the Tajik government will control the rest.

Tajikistan and Afghanistan currently are seeking bids for construction of part of a Central and South Asian grid system to export Tajikistan and Kyrgystan hydropower through Afghanistan to Pakistan. (HNN 1/10/08) Part of that work includes construction of 28.3 kilometers of 220-kilovolt transmission line from a switchyard to Sangtuda 1, and two 220-kV feeder bays at a 220-kV substation at Sangtuda 1 to accommodate a new transmission line to the border.

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