Myanmar grid meeting half of power needs amid conflict: junta

The regime blamed the shortfall in domestic energy production in part on attacks by its opponents

Myanmar is producing about half of the electricity it needs each day, the junta has said, blaming scant rainfall for hydropower, lower natural gas yields, and attacks by its opponents on infrastructure.

Rolling power cuts have battered an economy already reeling from unrest sparked by the military’s 2021 coup, most recently causing misery across the country as it bakes in a heatwave.

Myanmar’s electricity grid is producing only 2,800 megawatts of the required 5,443 megawatts needed each day, according to a statement from the electricity authority released by the junta’s information team late Wednesday.

Domestic power production from natural gas was about 446 megawatts less than the normal daily capacity, and low rainfall had led to a daily shortfall of around 350 megawatts from hydropower sources, it said.

Exports of natural gas to China and Thailand are a major source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped junta, earning almost US$300 million per month, according to the World Bank.

The junta also blamed attacks by its opponents for the shortfall in domestic power production.

Its coup in 2021 sparked renewed clashes with established ethnic minority armed groups and birthed dozens of People’s Defence Force groups now fighting to overthrow the military junta.

Around 350 megawatts from hydropower plants were lost due to attacks on power lines, the electricity authority said.

Since the putsch, 89 pylons had been destroyed, five power stations had been bombed, and there had been 71 attacks on main power lines, it added.

About 77 percent of Myanmar’s power plants were located within 10km (six miles) of “conflict-related fatalities,” the World Bank said last year.

The electricity authority also said 400,000 electricity metre boxes had been disconnected for the non-payment of bills.

Many across Myanmar have stopped paying utilities and other taxes to protest the coup that ousted the country’s elected civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The conflict unleashed by the coup has displaced more than 2.5 million people, according to the United Nations.

On Thursday, residents of commercial hub Yangon reported a power outage in the city at around 3:30pm local time (0900 GMT).

The electricity authority said it was making “timely efforts” to restore power in the city of about eight million people.

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