Egat lobbying to proceed with gas-fired power plants

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Egat lobbying to proceed with gas-fired power plants

State utilities plan to ask for the removal of natural gas-fired power plant building from the harmful industries list under the Section 67 of the 2007 Constitution, reasoning the long process could compromise power security.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) said it will ask Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who chairs the National Environmental Committee which endorses the list, to withdraw natural gas-fired plants from the list, said Egat governor Somboon Arayasakul.

“We have only four years to prepare the construction for the new capacity and are already on a tight deadline. If we need to take steps required under the harmful list, we’ll never make it on time. That would impact to the national power supply security,” Mr Somboon said.

Projects under the industries categorised as harmful must conduct environment and health impact assessments, as well as seek approval of an independent body, before construction begins.

Mr Somboon said Egat had been assigned by the Energy Ministry to build two gas-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 1,600 megawatts, scheduled to be operational in 2014. The facilities are aimed at substituting for the delayed capacity of two independent power plants facing strong opposition by communities.

The IPP projects belong to National Power Supply and Siam Energy Co, which postponed their operational schedules by two years to 2015 from 2013 and 2016 from 2014 respectively.

Egat’s substitute power plant projects are the expansions of the existing Chana Power Plant Unit 2 in Songkhla and the Wang Noi plant in Ayutthaya.

“The private power plants planned in Chachoengsao faced such strong opposition that they needed to be move somewhere else and the new locations have yet to be decided,” said Mr Somboon. “As a result, we are concerned a supply shortfall may be seen in 2014.”

However, the proposal has been rejected before in the recent discussions of the four-party panel before it drew up the final harmful list.

Mr Somboon insisted that since gas-fired power plants were not considered harmful in developed countries, Thailand should follow suit.

“We will convince him [Mr Abhisit]. We talked to other panel members but they dare not make a decision. However, this issue will have a serious impact in the long term,” he said.

From Bangkok Post website

22 July 2010

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