Loei’s PEA moves transformers underground to boost Chiang Khan tourism

Image courtesy of Siam Commercial Bank

The Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) in Loei has embarked on a mission to relocate electric transformers underground in the tourist-heavy Chiang Khan district. The initiative aims to prevent fire hazards in the district, which is known for its century-old wooden houses.

Komkrit Siriyutthaseanyakorn, who heads the local office of the Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning, stated that the removal of transformers from concrete power poles would also improve the stability of the power supply and tidy up the landscape by eliminating visible power cables.

Chiang Khan, located adjacent to the Mekong River in the northeastern province, attracts between four and five million tourists annually, generating over a billion baht in tourism-related income.

Praphan Srinuan, Deputy Governor of the Council of Engineers Thailand, reported that the PEA has surveyed the area and drawn up designs for the underground transformers along the popular Chiang Khan Walking Street. The ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organisations and the Engineering Institute of Thailand have suggested transforming Chiang Khan into the first smart city with low-carbon underground transformers.

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Siriwit Pornpanwatcharadech, Deputy Director of the transmission system design division at the state utility, revealed that the PEA will utilise a transformer model developed by Chulalongkorn University. He expressed confidence that by minimising the risk of fires in wooden houses, safety for residents, tourists, and PEA staff will be nearly assured.

He also projected that this would boost local tourism and business activities, reduce carbon emissions, and increase usable green space.

Recalling the success of a similar move in the Siam Square area, Sombat Vanichprapa, a consultant to the Chula Smart City project, said that placing transformers and power cables underground had significantly improved safety for pedestrians and made Bangkok’s city centre a preferred destination for tourists.

The underground transformer model, which uses a low-carbon submersible transformer, received recognition at the 2023 Thailand Energy Awards and the 2023 ASEAN Energy Awards, reports Bangkok Post.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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