Fuel tariff for electricity jumps 21 percent
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) lifted the fuel tariff for electricity by 10 satang per kilowatt hour at the beginning of May. This was a 21 percent jump to 3.96 baht per unit, which is a record high that will remain in place until August this year.
Despite the jump, the ERC noted the actual price increase was 13.94 satang but it was decided to peg the rise at 10 satang. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has absorbed the extra 3.94 satang per unit, which works out to be 2.24 billion baht.
The price increase comes at a time when the price of natural gas has also fired up to 9.11 baht per million standard cubic feet per day to 326 baht. The price for bunker oil has also risen, by 246 million baht to 3.65 billion baht. All-in-all, the price increases across the realm of energy will, naturally, be inflationary and see householders paying more for their power services.
EGAT and other energy authorities are also working on plans to try and reduce power consumption, especially in the southern provinces, for a month or so between 13 June and 10 July when the gas supply from the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area will be disrupted. This area accounts for 10 percent of Thailand’s total gas demand. Reports are that the disruption will affect power plants with a combined capacity of 700 megawatts, but only in the southern regions of the country.
EGAT is currently engaged in rolling out plans to upgrade Thailand’s total power grid. It recently announced a capital expenditure program of 240 billion baht that will begin this year and extend until 2019 and will see transmission lines brought up to the best of current technology and power plants being developed to cope with population increases.
Of this amount, 160 billion baht will be slated for upgrading high-voltage transmission lines across Thailand while the other 80 billion baht will go into improving current power plants and building new generators.
EGAT has plans to retire three major power plants, at South Bangkok, Bang Pakong, and Mae Moh while upgrading others. Among the improvements planned is to link the southern region transmission lines with those in the central plains.
Currently, 70 percent of Thailand’s power is generated by gas, and EGAT is looking to try and reduce that heavy reliance in coming years. The two main alternatives are hydropower and coal. The latter needs to be imported while the former, while seemingly more accessible, would require better water resource management. Hydropower would be difficult given that the two largest dams in the country, Sirikit and Bumibhol, were running at just 20 percent capacity at the beginning of May.