Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
|Predecessor||Yanhee Electricity Authority (YEA), Lignite Authority (LA), North-East Electricity Authority (NEEA)|
|Founded||1 May 1969|
|Mr Kornrasit Pakchotanon, Governor|
|Products||Electric power generation and transmission|
|Revenue||546,480 million baht (2015)|
|31,178 million baht (2015)|
|Total assets||876,625 million baht (2015)|
Number of employees
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT; Thai: การไฟฟ้าฝ่ายผลิตแห่งประเทศไทย) is a state enterprise, managed by the Ministry of Energy, responsible for electric power generation and transmission as well as bulk electric energy sales in Thailand. EGAT, established on 1 May 1969, is the largest power producer in Thailand, owning and operating power plants at 45 sites across the country with a total installed capacity of 15,548 MW.
EGAT's monopoly position in Thailand's electrical energy market has been challenged by critics as influential as a former energy minister as inefficient and an impediment to the development of renewable energy sources.
EGAT's power generation plants consist of three thermal power plants, six combined cycle power plants, 24 hydropower plants, eight renewable energy plants, and four diesel power plants. As of June 2016, EGAT's power plants provided 37 percent of Thailand's electricity. The remainder is provided by private producers and neighbouring countries. Gas-fired generation powers 67 percent of EGAT's total electricity generation while coal-fired power plants account for 20 percent. Most of EGAT's electricity is sold to the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA), which supplies the Bangkok region, and the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA), which supplies the rest of Thailand.
Observers have noted that in some Western countries, the state purchases renewable energy from producers first before purchasing non-renewable energy. If renewables fail to meet the country's energy demand, it is topped up using non-renewable energy sources. In Thailand, this policy is reversed.
As of May 2016, EGAT employed 22,955 persons.
Fossil fuel consumption
In the first half of 2016, EGAT imported 11 million tonnes of coal. Indonesia and Australia supplied 5.6 million tonnes of bituminous coal and 5.5 million tonnes of "other" coal. China and Russia supplied 47,395 tonnes of anthracite coal. EGAT produced 6.88 million tonnes of lignite from January–May 2016, mostly for use in its own power plants.
Plans and protests
EGAT continues to press forward with plans to construct six new coal-fired power plants by 2025 in spite of institutions such as the World Bank halting funding for new coal projects except in "rare circumstances". Rachel Kyte, the World Bank climate change envoy, said continued use of coal was exacting a heavy cost on some of the world's poorest countries, in local health impacts as well as climate change, which is imposing even graver consequences on the developing world. "In general globally we need to wean ourselves off coal,...There is a huge social cost to coal and a huge social cost to fossil fuels...if you want to be able to breathe clean air." EGAT "...has—in TV commercials—ridiculed renewable energy as expensive and insufficient to deal with rising electricity demand."
A persistent criticism of EGAT is that it has paid scant attention to the demand side of the energy equation. Rather than build more carbon-powered plants, working to reduce demand and use existing supplies more efficiently has taken a back seat to network expansion. Opportunities for big savings exist: on 29 March 2014, Thailand observed "Earth Hour." For one hour, superfluous lighting was turned off, resulting in a savings of 1,778 megawatts, the energy equivalent of a new power plant, and more than six million baht in power bills.
EGAT's plans for future developments have been dogged by protests by local residents:
- In mid-2015, government plans to build an 800 megawatt coal-fired electricity generating station (EGAT Coal-Fired TH #3):13 in Krabi Province have generated protests and hunger strikes by those opposed to the plant who say that it would endanger Krabi's relatively pristine environment. EGAT has pushed forward with development despite not having completed an environmental impact study. It intends to start the bidding process without an environmental assessment in order to "save time". The Krabi site is one of nine coal-fired plants planned for southern Thailand to be constructed over the next two decades to off-set the depletion of natural gas fields in the Gulf of Thailand. Opponents of the plan say their demands—which include a three-year waiting period to see if the province can produce 100 percent renewable energy—have been ignored.
- In Songkhla Province's Thepha District, a public hearing on EGAT's plans to build a coal-fired plant was ringed with razor wire to prevent opponents of the plan from gaining access to the hearing. The hearing, the third and final hearing on the Environment and Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) for the 2,400 megawatt plant, was policed by 400 soldiers, police, and volunteers. Some attendees admitted being transported to the hearing by local village leaders, who also provided them with gifts and food coupons. Songkhla Governor Thamrong Charoenkul chaired the hearing despite questions raised regarding his neutrality. He told the hearing that the project will benefit Thepa residents. "Since Egat has proposed the project, Thepha is now known nationwide. Shouldn't we be proud about that?" he said. Anuchart Palakawongse Na Ayudhya, director of EGAT's Project Environment Division, insisted EGAT's hearings were lawful. "We have organised the public review step by step according to the law," he said. Anuchart said EGAT did not bar anyone from expressing their opinions. "It's impossible to cancel the project. Most Thepha people support it," he said.
- Thailand's Power Development Plan, approved in May 2015 (PDP 2015), outlines the government's plans to import up to 10,000 MW of electricity from Myanmar over the next two decades. Much of this electricity is expected to come from planned hydro-power projects on the Salween River ("Thanlwin" in Myanmar). Thailand and Myanmar have signed an agreement for the Salween dams project, five dams on the Salween and another dam on the Tenasserim River. EGAT has been pushing forward two projects: the 1,360 MW Hatgyi dam in Kayin State and the 7,100 MW Mong Ton dam in Shan State (formerly known as the Tasang dam).The Mong Ton dam, in central Shan State, would span the Salween and Pang rivers, covering an area the size of Singapore.
EGAT has been the target of several lawsuits brought by neighbours of several of its operations. The best known is that of Mae Mo. Mae Mo is the site of a 2,400 MW lignite-fueled power plant run by EGAT. The plant has been the target of a series of lawsuits brought by locals who claim that the lignite mining operation and the burning of lignite fuel by EGAT has negatively impacted the environment and the health of those living in the vicinity. A 12-year fight by villagers for compensation for damages ended in victory for the plaintiffs in February 2015. The Supreme Administrative Court in Chiang Mai Province upheld a ruling by the Chiang Mai Administrative Court in 2005. The court handed down a verdict ordering EGAT to pay compensation to 131 plaintiffs, some of them deceased. Plant victims were awarded between 20,000-240,000 baht each, commensurate with their suffering. The total amounts to 25 million baht plus 7.5 percent interest.
Several days earlier, the court had ordered EGAT to return its Mae Mo golf course, adjacent to the open pit lignite mine, to woodland in order to help clean up the air pollution caused by EGAT's Mae Mo operations.
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