As blackouts sweep Vietnam, northern province vows power for Apple suppliers and firms

HANOI, June 6 (Bloomberg): Vietnam’s northern province of Bac Giang, home to suppliers for Apple Inc. and other global electronics companies, promises daytime power to factories as blackouts sweep across the country.

Outages have hit industrial parks in some northern provinces including Bac Giang and Bac Ninh, the state utility Vietnam Electricity Group’s northern unit has said. Soaring power usage in northern Vietnam is expected to continue through early June amid intense heat, it said.

In nearby Bac Ninh province, Communist Party Committee Secretary Nguyen Anh Tuan ordered officials to come up with a plan to minimize factory blackouts, particularly for electronics and food processing plants, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Bac Giang will secure "uninterrupted” electricity for factories between 7:45am to 5pm starting today, according to a posting on the provincial news website, citing a meeting of local officials after recent blackouts disrupted production. The province will prioritize power to households at night.

Factories in the export-dependent economy so far haven’t complained about a lack of power, according to Nguyen Mai, head of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises. Many global companies, particularly electronics makers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and those with large operations such as Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp., have their own sources for electricity, he said by phone.

Nonetheless, some plants have experienced power shortages, Deputy Trade Minister Do Thang Hai said during a weekend briefing, without elaborating.

Bac Giang’s power distribution plan will run for 20 days, according to the report. It will be adjusted should the situation change.

Searing summer temperatures and reduced water levels in hydropower reservoirs are straining Vietnam’s grid. Six northern hydroelectric reservoirs stopped generating electricity June 6, according to data from the Vietnam Electricity Group. The company’s northern unit warned customers in a website posting to expect more blackouts due to an overloaded grid caused by rising power demand.

Thousands of factories have been forced to curb consumption and officials have implemented planned blackouts. Policymakers are now scrambling to find ways to boost electricity supply, either by quickly clearing completed renewable projects or bringing in liquefied natural gas imports for the first time.

Le Anh Duong, chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, urged companies to arrange shifts for the efficient use of power, it said. Companies with urgent orders should seek industrial parks’ approvals to operate extra shifts from midnight until 5am. - Bloomberg

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