Tajikistan launches third unit of 670-MW Sangtuda 1

Russian international power developer Inter RAO UES has started up the third generating unit of Tajikistan's 670-MW Sangtuda 1 hydroelectric project on the Vakhsh River.

Speaking at the opening ceremony November 5, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon said the new unit would allow Tajiks to use electricity for at least eight hours a day this winter, compared to just four hours a day last year.

"Water resources will be used more efficiently and our power supply will become more reliable," he said.

The new third unit is to add about 5 percent to Tajikistan's current production of 17.5 billion kilowatt-hours. Russian government-owned companies have an 83.55 percent stake in Sangtuda 1, while Tajikistan owns the remaining 16.45 percent.

Inter RAO is to add a fourth unit to complete the project for a total cost of US$720 million in the first quarter of 2009. (HNN 7/3/08)

Several Russian companies, including Power Machines, Chekhovsky Zavod Gidrostal, ChirkeiGESstroy, Zarubezhvodstroy, Zagranenergostroymontazh, and Hydromontazh Trust, are acting as contractors and equipment suppliers for Sangtuda 1, one of the largest commercial investments to be financed by Russia in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Construction of the project began in the late 1980s, but was halted at 20 percent completion in the early 1990s due to lack of funds and hostilities in Tajikistan. Tajikistan and Russia completed negotiations in 2004 to resume the project's construction.

Inter RAO senior executive Igor Sharov said Rakhmon has invited Russia to build three separate power plants in the former Soviet nation.

Millions of Tajiks struggled to survive without heating and electricity in their homes last winter as temperatures plunged to below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) across the mountainous nation north of Afghanistan.

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