Two groups bid for Krabi power project

Construction News

TWO CONSORTIA have submitted proposals to build a Bt48-billion coal-fired power plant in the southern province of Krabi, even though opponents of the project insist there is no need to build such a “polluting” power plant in the tourism-dependent province.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) said yesterday’s bid submissions by the consortium of Alstom Power Systems and Marubeni and the consortium of Power Construction Corporation of China and Italian-Thai Development were not legally binding until the controversial project gets the EHIA (environmental and health impact assessment) green light.

Somsak Saengdara, coordinator of the Protect Andaman from Coal Network, a non-governmental organisation that previously staged a lengthy protest against this project at Government House in Bangkok, said the group was closely monitoring the process to ensure that the government keeps its promises.

“We have [taken] no activity against the bid submissions yet. We want the government to stick to its pledge. As of now, we’re not worried because the project could not go ahead without the EHIA, which has yet to be considered.

“In addition, we are preparing information to convince the government that Krabi should rely on sustainable energy and that there is no need to build a polluting coal-fired power plant in this province,” he said.

Ratanachai Ngamwong, deputy governor of Egat, said it would take about six months to evaluate the proposals from the two groups of companies for construction of the Krabi power plant, and Egat would issue its letter of intent only after the EHIA and other government approvals are in place.

According to the Power Development Plan released this year, the Krabi plant will have to start supplying electricity to the national power system by December 2019. That is only a little over four years from now, so the agency decided it had to expedite the bidding process pending EHIA approval.

Ratanachai said Egat would need at least a year to finalise the selection of the contractor, and then construction would take another four years. Because of the tight schedule, tendering and other contractor-selection work had to be done in parallel with the EHIA process.

On the other hand, if the project is unable to get the EHIA green light, it will not go ahead and the bids will be scrapped.

Earlier, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told Krabi residents who came to Bangkok and staged the protest at Government House that his regime would review the project, but he urged them to allow Egat to go ahead with the tendering process while the EHIA was under way.

Meanwhile, the National Reform Council’s energy reform committee has submitted its report on the sector’s restructuring to increase competition, efficiency and energy security. It says that to achieve these objectives, there must be greater transparency and good governance as well as fairness for consumers and business operators. The report also calls for a reduction of monopolies in the energy sector and amendment of the Oil Fund law, along with a new law on alternative and renewable energy sources.