Policymakers to decide Krabi plant fate

Activists protested the coal-fired power plant project in Krabi outside Government House last November.

Policymakers to decide Krabi plant fate

Energy policymakers will make a final decision on Feb 17 about whether the government will proceed with a plan to build a coal-fired power plant in the southern city of Krabi, says the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat).

Egat governor Kornrasit Pakchotanon said the National Energy Policy Council will consider the issue at a meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The project has been strongly opposed for nearly two years by environmental activists and villagers.

The coal-fired power plant is worth 49.5 billion baht and had opened for construction bidding last October. The Consortium of Power Construction Corporation of China and Italian-Thai Development of Thailand were tentative winners for the bid at that time, before the project faced a new delay.

The construction of the 800-megawatt power plant in Krabi has been postponed since 2015, when environmental activists staged protests that finally forced the government to postpone the project in order to listen to the opinions of nearly communities.

Locals expressed concerns that the coal-fired power plant would generate pollution and damage the tourism industry that contributes huge income to the southern province.

With the delay in construction and development, the commercial operation date of the power plant was put off from December 2019 to some time in 2021.

The delay of the Krabi power plant also had a domino effect on another coal-fired power plant in Songkhla’s Thepha district, which was also delayed.

The 2,000MW power plant in Thepha is worth 104.73 billion baht. The bid for construction and its deep-sea port facilities had been opened during May to October 2016 and the winner of the bid is expected to be announced by the middle of this year.

Mr Kornrasit said if the government decided to go ahead with the projects, Egat would ask for the acceleration of the approval of the health impact assessment report from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to rev up the project and start construction.
If the government scraps the project, Egat will conduct a feasibility study to seek new locations for the power plants as well as other power resources instead of coal.

Mr Kornrasit said said another location that would suit the new power plants would be some seashore areas in the Gulf of Thailand rather than the long beach in Krabi, where there have been protests.

Meanwhile, the Energy Ministry is mulling a plan to appeal to the court on Gulf JP Co winning the bids in 2013 to construct several power plant.

The Energy Ministry had submitted a filing with the court concerning the transparency of the bids, demanding their cancellation. But the court ultimately dropped the case, prompting Gulf JP to pursue its projects.

Source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/news/1178469/policymakers-to-decide-krabi-plant-fate