An official ceremony to inaugurate the Theun Hinboun dam in Laos was due to be held on 4 April, in the presence of Asian Development Bank president Mitsuo Sato and the president or prime minister of Laos.

The 210MW capacity hydro power project is a first for the Lao government: it has been funded by the private sector, as well as the ADB. The loans will be paid back through sales of the electricity to Thailand, under a 25-year power purchase agreement in which 95% of the plant output is sold to the Electricity Generating Author#ity of Thailand (EGAT).

The ADB loan helped finance the Lao government’s 60% share of the Theun Hinboun Power Company, which will own and operate the hydro plant. The other partners in the company are GMS Power of Thailand and Nordic Hydropower, based in Sweden and Norway.

Construction of the dam cost some US$260M in total, and according to the ADB the project was completed below budget and slightly ahead of schedule. Opposition was muted, in comparison to some hydro power developments, because the project is a run-of-river plant, so very few people were displaced and the land area affected was very small.

Since Theun Hinboun involves co-operation between Thailand and Laos it is regarded as an important part of the ADB’s Grater Mekong Subregional Initiative, which promotes greater economic co-operation in the six countries of the greater Mekong region.