The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the State Bank of Vietnam signed Friday the first tranche of a 730- million-U.S.-dollar investment program to upgrade the country\'s power transmission network to meet growing demands from industry and households. Vietnam\'s power demand is expected to grow by an average of 14 percent per year from 2011-2015 and then by 11 percent per year until 2020, ADB vice president Stephen Groff said at the signing ceremony, \"To keep the economy powering forward, Vietnam needs a stable, steady supply of electricity. Upgrades in power generation, transmission, and distribution capacity, as foreseen under the investment program, will remove bottlenecks and reduce transmission losses, ensure safety and quality of electricity supply, allowing the lights to stay on and the economy to keep growing,\" he said. Although Vietnam has made remarkable progress in expanding access to electricity, many communities, especially those in the rural and mountainous areas, are not yet connected to the grid. Without additional network expansion, the share of urban and rural populations without electricity is expected to increase, particularly those with lower income and power consumption, he said. The multi-tranche loan facility for the Power Transmission Investment Program begins with a first payment of 120.5 million U. S dollars. The program supports the construction of almost 648 kilometers of 500 kilovolts (kV) lines and more than 100 kilometers of 220 kV lines, plus upgrades of associated substations and training and other support to the Vietnam\'s National Power Transmission Corporation. ADB funds are expected to be released in four tranches, with the first loan from ordinary capital resources having a 25-year term. The program is due for completion in 2020.