February 04, 2014 00:00 By Watcharapong Thongrung
The power tariff is expected to go up further in the next four-month period starting in May after rising Bt0.05 per kilowatt hour this month.
Soonchai Kumnoonsate, governor of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, said yesterday the Ft or fuel adjustment charge is likely to be raised further due to factors including the depreciation of the baht, the maintenance shutdowns of the Bongkot natural gas pipeline in the Gulf of Thailand in April and of the Thailand-Malaysia Joint Development Area’s natural gas pipeline facilities in June, which will force power plants to depend more on higher priced fuel oil and diesel.
Egat may have to shoulder some costs to minimise the power rate’s increase, as it did in the current Ft adjustment round, when the state-owned power generator did not pass on Bt1 billion to users.
Egat projects electricity demand to grow 3 per cent this year, based on the GDP growth forecast of 4 per cent. Power demand increased by just 0.11 per cent last year, against a 2-per-cent prediction, due to slower economic growth and cool weather.
The prolonged political instability might delay Egat’s plan to launch a Bt17 billion infrastructure fund for its North Bangkok Power Plant Unit 2 from the schedule of July or August this year. The plan would require the approval of the new government.
Other affected projects include the Bt63.2 billion, 500-kilovolt transmission project for the South and the construction of power plants to replace the retiring Mae Moh Power Plant units 4-7, which have a combined generating capacity of 600 megawatts.
The Energy Ministry is seeking approval from the Election Commission to allow Egat to go ahead with the two projects. Soonchai said he was confident that Egat would be permitted to proceed with the two urgent projects because they are important for national power security.
Egat’s other investment plans for fiscal 2014 and 2015, which have a combined cost of about Bt70 billion, are expected not to be affected by the political crisis since most of them have already won the Cabinet’s nod.
They include the 70MW Wang Noi Unit 4, which will go on-stream in April; the 760MW Chana 2 Unit, which will commence in April or May; and the 848MW North Bangkok Power Plant Unit 2, which will start producing power next January.