Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
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 is the largest power producer in Thailand, owning and operating power plants at 40 sites across the country with a total installed capacity of 15,010 MW. Its power generation plants consist of three thermal power plants, six combined cycle power plants, 22 hydropower plants, eight renewable energy plants, and a diesel power plant. As of April 2015, EGAT's power plants provided 44.4% of Thailand's electricity consumption. The remainder is provided by private producers and neighbouring countries. EGAT power plants are 34.51% fossil fuel-driven; 9.88% hydro-driven; and 0.01% driven by other renewable energy sources. As of October 2015, EGAT employed 22,726 persons.
EGAT continues to press forward on its plans to install coal-fired generating plants 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 was established on 1 May 1969.
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% 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.
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% 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.
- "EGAT Profile". Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "System Installed Generating Capacity". Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Employees". Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- Goldenberg, Suzanne (2015-07-29). "World Bank rejects energy industry notion that coal can cure poverty". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- Kongrut, Anchalee (2015-08-07). "Bringing climate change policy into the 21st century". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
- Deboonme, Achara (2014-04-01). "The illusions clouding Thailand's energy outlook". The Nation. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- "Mae Moh Power Plant". EGAT. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- Sattha, Cheewin (2015-02-15). "Victory for Mae Moh victims". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Mae Moh golf course to be destroyed". Bangkok Post. 2015-02-11. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Summary of Thailand Power Development Plan 2012 – 2030 (PDP2010: Rev 3)" (PDF). Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). Ministry of Energy, Energy Policy and Planning Office. June 2012. p. 13. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Andersen, Ted (2015-07-21). "Hunger strikes, protests to oppose Thailand's plan for coal plants on Andaman Coast". U.S. News & World Report. Associated Press. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Razor wire rings Thepha power plant hearing". Bangkok Post. 2015-07-27. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- Wangkiat, Paritta (2015-07-28). "Protesters shun power plant hearing". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 28 July 2015.