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Rural Electrification Board

Rural Electrification Board (REB) established under a government Ordinance of 1977 started functioning in 1978. It implements the programmes of distribution of power in rural areas and constructs power distribution line and power sub-stations through Rural Electric Societies (Palli Biddyut Samity PBS) on the principle of co-operative. Its headquarters are at in Dhaka. By March 2011, REB formed 70 PBS through out the country and 48,746 villages under 433 upazilas of 61 districts of the country were brought under the rural electrification programme. The REB constructed 222,780 km of distribution lines, of which 120,947 km had been energised. It also constructed 426 sub-stations (33/11 KV) through which 83,29,657 consumers were given power lines the figure was 3178,987 in 2000.

Power transmission distribution network in Bangladesh was confined within the urban areas even just twenty five years ago. At present, the rural people are under coverage of electrification, which created new job opportunities and access to electronic media. This contributed to improvement of the standard of their living. Electricity is now (2011) available to operate 2,40,542 irrigation pumps, 1,32,963 small and cottage industry units, 8,09,941 commercial setups and 13,942 other establishments in the rural areas. These figures were 86,766, 62,875, 37,3,119 and 8,733 respectively in 2000. The rural electrification programme in Bangladesh achieved higher operational standards compared to other utilities in this part of the world. The overall system loss of the PBS is about 16.62% while some of the co-operatives could confine their system loss within 10%. During 1999-2000, average collection of the societies was 97% of billed amount.

The strict adherence to transparency, accountability and the unflinching support of the government, development partners and people associated with the rural electrification programme, REB attained an outstanding standard in the excellence of work. The main reason behind the success was the introduction of the Performance Target Agreement (PTA), which encouraged rural electric societies to improve their performances. Under the agreement at the beginning of each fiscal year, REB negotiates with each society to set a target for performance in some important areas and a bilateral agreement is signed to this effect. If the PBS can attain the target the employees are given bonus up to 15% of their basic salary. On the other hand, failure to attain targets may result in salary cut up to one percent.

The demand for power by REB to implement the rural electrification programme in 1999-2000 was 280.77 MW, which the power development board could not supply. REB incorporated a private company to construct a 210 MW power plant in Mymensingh PBS area to cover the shortage. The plant now generates 150-155 MW of electricity. The plans of REB include setting up of a Steam Turbine power plant of 70 MW, which would increase the generation capacity of Mymensingh PBS area to 210. By January 2010, twelve power stations were set up by 9 PBS. The generation capacity of these stations are 225.55 MW. Moreover 14 PBS under REB had signed contact with private power generation companies to purchase power. The daily supply of these companies and PBS power stations is 28.7 MW to maximum 75 MW.

REB set up a 62 KW solar project under a French grant in 1996-98 in the meghna river islands near narsingdi, where the local PBS could not set up power transmission line across the mighty river. Solar plants were also set up in Barisal, Cox's Bazar, Natore, Pabna and Sirajganj. By June 2009, these plants could generate maximum 744 KW of power daily. During the Fifth Five-Year Plan (1997-2002) period REB constructed 50,000 km of distribution line at a total estimated cost of $35 billion to connect 12,000 villages. These are in line with the government programmes of bringing the entire country under electricity service by the year 2020, making the power sector financially viable and able to facilitate economic growth and increasing the sector's efficiency.

Until January 2001, REB spent about Tk 57.415 billion with a foreign exchange component of Tk 26.895 billion. During the period, REB received $975.91 million of assistance from various development partners including IDA, USAID, JBIC, ADB, KFAED, CIDA, NORAD, SFD, OPEC, IDB, JDRG, Netherlands, Finland, China, Saudi Arabia and France. By March 2011, REB brought 45% rural area under its network. [Mahbubul Alam]