Energy Regulatory Commission delays deadlines following complaints

Energy Regulatory Commission delays deadlines following complaints

Renewable power plants face protests

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will extend the deadline to begin commercial operation dates (CODs) for 33 renewable power plants after many operators called for the government to ease conditions.

The 33 projects include waste-to-energy, biogas and biomass resources with a combined power generation of 300 megawatts. These operators have been stymied by local protesters resisting development of power projects in their communities.

Some projects have yet to begin construction because of project finance failures or impractical technologies.

ERC chairman Samerjai Suksumek said the operators of the 33 projects are calling for the government to relocate the sites and change the types of renewable resources to begin construction and hopefully operation.

"They have prepared and constructed their projects, but they cannot meet the COD schedules, which leads to fines and penalties under the ERC's conditions," he said.

"The ERC will consider how to extend the deadlines to help 33 power projects."

All renewable power projects were granted power generation licences from 2015-18, with a COD deadline of 2021.

"Some projects have been opposed by locals, so the ERC will extend the time frame to try and develop an understanding with communities," said Mr Samerjai.

He said the matter is expected to be concluded by December, then the National Energy Policy Council will consider the deadline extension.

In a related development, Mr Samerjai said the ERC will discuss with PTT Plc the promotion of a trading hub for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Southeast Asia as part of a government policy.

The ERC will consider facilitating the ERC sandbox project after receiving 100 project submissions from companies, with 34 selected for the sandbox.

PTT has two innovative projects for LNG distribution selected to join the ERC sandbox for testing before commercial adoption.

PTT has two LNG receiving terminals in Rayong with a total capacity of 19 million tonnes a year.

The first is in Map Ta Phut, with 11.5 million tonnes a year, while the other is being constructed in Nong Fab with a capacity of 7.5 million tonnes.

The Nong Fab plant will begin operation in 2021.

In addition, PTT and Gulf Energy Development Plc formed a joint venture to develop the third phase of Map Ta Phut seaport to support LNG facilities in the near future.

Mr Samerjai said the ERC received complaints from power users about fuel tariff rates and power bills, so the agency plans to improve power purchase contracts for the state utility.

Power users are categorised into five groups with different power prices: households, small companies, medium companies, large companies and special businesses.

Households and small companies total roughly 20 million users, while large companies and special businesses stand at 120,000 users.

The ERC has a standard for power purchase contracts, launched in 2015, but the standard for large companies and special businesses was launched last November.

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