About 10 new power plants, including two gas-fired plants and four hydro plants, with a combined capacity of 3,000 megawatts, would start operation next year, the online newspaper VietnamNet (www.vnn.vn) quoted the Industry and trade ministry as saying.

Officials from the ministry were not available for comment.

The report said the ministry forecast power demand would rise up to 15% next year as the economy was expected to grow 7% in 2009, similar to the pace forecast this year.

In a sign of the power sector's problems, utility monopoly group EVN still warned of more outages due to a shortfall of about 200 million megawatt hour during next year's dry season between January and May.

EVN has said it would buy more electricity from China to bridge the shortfall. The group has been importing power from China since 2004 with annual purchase averaging around 3.5 billion kilowatt hour.

EVN said in a statement on Friday it asked state agencies and offices to reduce power consumption by around 2% and use power-saving bulbs as part of a plan to save about 1 billion kilowatt hour of electricity per year.

Reuters - September 15, 2008