THPC, the owner and operator of the Theun-Hinboun hydropower plant, has approved over US$50 million for social and environmental programs to be implemented over the next five yeTHPC Continues Investmentars. The funds, allocated by the THPC Board at an end-of-year meeting, mark the company's ongoing commitment to economic and social development along with environmental protection.

Since opening its expansion project in January 2013, THPC's generating capacity has been increased to 500 MW, meaning the company can earn more export revenue and deliver more electricity to businesses and homes in southern and central Laos. From the beginning of the expansion project in 2008, THPC redoubled its efforts to set up practical measures that would assist local people and help conserve the area's nature and beauty. The company has so far spent around US$60 million on a broad range of initiatives.

A significant proportion of that budget was used to build four resettlement villages for families moving out of the Nam Gnouang reservoir area and to relocate the houses of over 4,300 villagers along the Nam Hai River. In addition to improved housing and public facilities such as clinics, schools, roads, electricity and water supply, THPC offers livelihood programs to help people improve agricultural and business opportunities, and has also scaled up social assistance to include nutritional and sanitation components.Environmental programs have continued after completion of project construction. THPC monitors all water bodies in the project area to make sure water standards remain high for local people and the area's wildlife, while partnerships with organizations such as the National Integrated Ecosystem and Wildlife Management Project and the Wildlife Conservation Society help the company contribute to improved biodiversity protection measures in Bolikhamxay and Khammouane.

 For 2014, THPC has approved a budget of US$11.73 million to continue and expand its social and environmental programs. This represents 38% of the company's total operating budget for the year and includes $1.5m for new village roads, $1m for a new irrigation system and $1.6m for further relocation of households away from river flood plains. An additional $40m of social and environmental funds has been approved for the years 2015-2018.

THPC's General Manager, Mr Robert Allen, said the budget showed the company was serious in trying to attain the high standards set at the start of the expansion project. "THPC committed itself to improving the lives of people in the project area, and to ensuring that the company's environmental footprint is minimized. We will keep working towards these ambitious goals until both the company and the government are satisfied we have attained them."