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SEC will spend US$1 billion in 2011

Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC), the largest listed utility in the Gulf region, said it plans to invest US$1.01 billion in 2011 and add 309,000 new customers as electricity demand in the country continues to rise.

The firm hopes to add 1.79mn clients between 2011 and 2016 to bring the total of its customer base to 7.9mn, SEC said in a statement.

SEC also plans to build 56 new power transfer stations, 33 power transforming stations and upgrade 10 existing stations next year to keep pace with the kingdom's growing population.

In addition, SEC plans to add 6,510 MW in power generation capacity in 2011 in new projects that will become operational in 2012. The company also targets the addition of 12,752 MW between 2012 and 2016.

Saudi Arabia, which is struggling to supply uninterrupted electricity amid a population boom and industrial expansion, expects SEC to invest some US$80bn over the next 10 years to add 20,000 MW of power generation capacity.

SEC may involve private firms in building more power plants. The private sector would contribute through independent power producers (IPPs), investing US$24bn of the total US$80bn, SEC plans to build six IPPs to add 10,000 MW by 2017 with investments of US$12bn.

The company, which has a monopoly over almost all power generation and all the transmission and distribution in the kingdom, has previously said the kingdom's power demand is seeing an 8 per cent rise a year and that 30,000 MW have to be added.