Lukashenka calls for "realistic" plan to boost electricity consumption

Alyaksandr Lukashenka directed on Friday that the cabinet devise a "realistic" plan to increase electricity consumption in Belarus amid concerns that the country may generate too much electricity when the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant is put into operation.

Speaking at a government conference in Minsk, Mr. Lukashenka ordered the cabinet to propose ways to expand electricity use in the industrial, agricultural, information technologies, transport and utilities sectors, as well as boost electricity use by households, said the presidential press office.

Mr. Lukashenka said that electricity consumption was at an "extremely low level" and warned that the electricity to be generated by the nuclear power plant should "find demand." "This is the main issue in reforming or improving this sector," he said.

He added that per capita electricity consumption in Belarus was only a half or even a third of consumption levels in developed countries.

Mr. Lukashenka noted that more than $1 billion had been spent on modernizing Belarus' power engineering sector in the past five years. As a result, Belarus uses one of the lowest amounts of fuel for generating one kilowatt-hour of electricity in the Commonwealth of Independent States, he said. "Imported fuel consumption has dropped by the equivalent of three billion cubic meters of natural gas, or by some $600 million, a year."Noting that domestic electricity output had increased by 2.1 billion kilowatt-hours in the period, Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus was set to import no electric power this year for the first time in its history.

"There is a need to determine what should be undertaken not only for correcting existing flaws but also for raising the efficiency of the entire power engineering sector," he said.

He raised objections to any "experiments" and said that the government study foreign practices, "above all those of our neighbors."