Energy spending sped up
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Energy spending sped up

B230bn allotted for several projects

Corn waste is turned into fuel for electricity at the Mae Cham pilot project, part of Energy for All.  Yuthana Praiwan
Corn waste is turned into fuel for electricity at the Mae Cham pilot project, part of Energy for All.  Yuthana Praiwan

Energy policymakers are accelerating budget spending worth 230 billion baht through development projects, hoping to inject huge investment into the staggering economy during the rest of the year.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who met Energy Ministry officials on Thursday, said Thailand needs investment to stimulate the economy in the post-pandemic era, starting in the second half of 2020.

The government is allocating 200 billion baht of its investment budget to two key state enterprises, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) and national oil and gas firm PTT Plc, for a range of projects. These include grid modernisation and connectivity, development of liquefied natural gas receiving terminals, the fifth phase of the gas pipeline and the decommissioning of gas production rigs in the Gulf of Thailand.

A further 30 billion baht will be used to support the Energy for All scheme, which encourages communities to co-invest with the private sector on renewable energy-based power plants to produce 100 megawatts of electricity.

The budget is the second allocation from the ministry's financial package set up to relieve the viral impact. An earlier subsidy lowered monthly power bills from March to May to help those struggling with living costs during the lockdown and work-from-home period.

In total, the government spent 40.5 billion baht through the Provincial Electricity Authority and the Metropolitan Electricity Authority.

The subsidy has ended and is not being extended, said Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.

He looks forward to using Energy for All to extend further help to rural people, who will be encouraged to earn money by selling agricultural waste as fuel for electricity production.

The scheme is expected to be approved by the cabinet next Tuesday, kicking off a process to select investors by the Energy Regulatory Commission, the minister said.

The first licence for power plant operation is scheduled for August.

"We hope this project will create jobs for at least 10,000 people and generate over 2 billion baht in revenue," Mr Sontirat said.

In another development, Egat announced on Thursday it would embark on energy technology businesses by forming a joint venture with two subsidiaries to set up a new company, Innovation Holding Co.

The firm is made up of 40% investment from Egat, 30% from Ratch Group Plc and another 30% from Electricity Generating Plc.

Kulit Sombatsiri, Egat chairman and energy permanent secretary, said the new businesses will cover a new trade platform for electricity from renewable sources, energy storage systems, electric vehicles and digital solutions.

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