Southeast Asia's largest hydroelectric power station has begun operating to help ease electricity shortage in Vietnam.
The first of six turbines at the Son La station has been connected to the national power grid, said Hoang Trong Nam, director of the plant's management board.
He said the US$ 2 billion dollar plant with a capacity of 2,400 megawatts is expected to be fully operational in 2012, three years ahead of a target set by the National Assembly, according to reports by VietnamNet.
Nam said about 100,000 people -- mostly from ethnic minority groups -- were relocated to make way for the reservoir, which stretches across the three provinces of Son La, Lai Chau and Dien Bien in northwestern Vietnam.
Initial plans called for an even larger dam but it was scaled down after deputies in the National Assembly raised concerns about the human and environmental costs of the project, including its safety in an earthquake-prone mountainous region.
"It's a strategic project for Vietnam's energy security in the years to come
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