Laos signals intent to move forward with 770-MW Pak Lay hydropower project

The Lao government has submitted an official notification to the Mekong River Commission, indicating it will undertake the formal process of prior consultation for the proposed 770-MW Pak Lay hydroelectric project.

The document, given to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat last week, provides the other three members of the MRC with information about Pak Lay per terms of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

The secretariat now has a month to review the filing before forwarding it to the MRC’s Joint Committee, which includes representatives from the organization’s member countries.

Pak Lay would represent the fourth hydroelectric facility to be built on the Mekong River under terms of the Mekong Agreement and its prior consultation process, with others including the 260-MW Don Sahong, 1,285-MW Xayaburi and 912-MW Pak Beng — all of which are part of the government’s desire to become a “battery” for southeast Asia.

“We have learned lessons from the previous cases and the success of the Pak Beng prior consultation process,” said MRC executive Pham Tuan Phan. “This experience allows us to be more robust and prepared to assist our member countries to review the project, assess technical aspects and conclude in an inclusive and meaningful way.”

If approved, Pak Lay would be located in Laos’ Xayaboury Province, downstream from the Xayaburi hydro project and about 100 kilometers from the Thailand border. Construction would be scheduled to begin in 2022, with completion and operation set for 2029.

The Lao government also announced earlier this month that it had signed an agreement to study hydro potential on the Sekong, Sesan and Srepok rivers.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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