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First task for Energy minister: Defuse electricity generation battle

Jul 18. 2019
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The Energy Ministry will on Thursday (July 18) submit a list of works for new minister Sontirat Sontijirawong to consider on taking office.

The ministry will first ask him to acknowledge a letter it will send to the Ombudsman’s Office clarifying the state’s contribution to the country’s electricity generation.

Kulit Sombatsiri, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said last Friday the letter was in response to the Ombudsman’s suggestion that the ministry revise its Power Development Plan (PDP) for 2018-2037 by boosting the state’s contribution to at least 51 per cent.

The letter explains that the state-owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) owns the power lines across the country, indicating that the state has invested at least 50 per cent in the country’s electricity generation system.

If the Ombudsman finds the explanation inadequate, the ministry might consider asking the Cabinet to submit the case to the Constitution Court.

The Ombudsman told the ministry recently that the 2018 PDP allowed private companies to share the role of producing electricity, after which the state’s contribution was cut to less than 50 per cent. This contravened the second paragraph of the 2017 Constitution’s Article 56, said the Ombudsman, which has asked the ministry to take action to comply with the charter within 120 days.

Another issue Sontirat will have to consider is whether to maintain the B20 biodiesel price subsidy beyond the expiry date of July 31.

Sintirat’s policy on biodiesel and gasohol is eagerly awaited by the industrial sector, given that the 2019 Oil Fund Act set to come into effect on September 24 bans the use of the fund to subsidise renewable energy.

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