The construction of Afghanistan’s first thermal electricity plant will soon begin in the northern city of Sheberghan City in Jowzjan province, officials of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, Afghanistan’s National Electricity Company, said on Tuesday.

The officials said plans for the project were made in close cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who is the primary funder for it. More than 200 families are expected to gain access to sustainable electricity once the project is completed.

Thermal power is produced through a process in which water is heated, turned into steam, spinning a steam turbine that then drives an electrical generator. Thermal power is said to be the primary source of electricity in India.

Breshna Sherkat officials said nine small steam turbines will be installed over the next three years, each producing 200 Megawatts of electricity.

“USAID committed to build several turbines within three years, the turbines will each produce 200 MW electricity for 200 residential families,” Breshna Sherkat spokesperson Wahidullah Tawhidi said.

Economic experts were optimistic upon hearing of the new project, and said it would likely have a major impact on improving commerce and overall quality of life in the region.

“In my opinion, the production of thermal electricity will positively effect the development of industry and people’s lives,” Afghan economic expert and university lecturer Sayed Masoud said.

Despite Tuesday’s announcement, a number of Jowzjan MPs have expressed scepticism about the project, which they said was promised years ago but never carried out.

In the past, the residents of Sheberghan city have been complained about the lack of reliable electricity in the province, despite the area’s rich deposits of natural gas and oil.