Yangon Electricity Supply Board last week began rationing power to small and medium factories in residential areas, an official said.
Board chairman U Aung Khaing said the cuts came into effect on January 1, with power rationed from 4pm to 11pm, reducing demand by 200 megawatts.
“Firstly we will reduce the supply of electricity to SMEs in residential areas and after that to factories owned by the government and last to industrial zones. We do not have enough electricity from hydropower plants between January and June,” he said.
“There will be more cuts in February because consumption increases at the same time as production from hydropower dams decreases. It is a great problem for us every year,” he said.
About 72 percent of electricity to Yangon, which has about 900,000 installed electricity meters, comes from hydropower, while the rest is sourced from natural gas.
But other regions have already been suffering from electricity rationing since December 2012, U Aung Khaing said.
Even with an electrification rate of less than one-quarter – ministry figures show just 22pc of households had an electricity connection in 2011 – U Aung Khaing said electricity supply met only three-quarters of demand, which is about 2060 megawatts.
“The current supply is just 75pc of the amount needed for the whole country,” he said.
U Khin Maung Zaw, director of the Department of Electric Power, said the ministry will supply Mandalay, Pyay, Magwe and Bago with a 1-megawatt generator each in March to help them cope when demand peaks in the hot season, which runs from March through May.
Meanwhile, gas turbines are being imported from Spain, Germany, Austria, Singapore and Malaysia to help meet demand during summer.
The government has indicated it will in future try to increase electricity generation from natural gas, which is not subject to seasonal variations, to ensure enough power is available during the hot season. In December, United States firm General Electric said it had been selected to supply natural gas turbines to a 100-megawatt plant in Ahlone township, which is expected to come online by the second quarter of this year.
However, a May 2012 report prepared by the Ash Centre for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University warned that to catch up with current demand and cope with increased electrification “a massive increase in electricity generation and transmission is needed very quickly”.
“Growth rates doubling electricity output every four to five years are probably needed for a decade,” said the report, titled “Electricity in Myanmar: The Missing Prerequisite for Development”.