Coal-fired power plant decision due Friday

Coal-fired power plant decision due Friday

The battle to stop the coal-fired power plant in Krabi is about to erupt again as the Energy Policy and Planning Committee meets Friday to decide the fate of the project.

Project opponents who have organised under the Network for Saving the Andaman plan to hold an extended protest outside Government House starting Friday until there is a change of policy.

Almost simultaneously, project supporters have submitted a petition to the government emphasising "pressing needs" to build more coal-fired power plants.

The protest comes after a controversial document, dated Tuesday, over the signature of Sawetchat Suwannarat of Klong Thom district was leaked on social media.

It ordered village heads and sub-district chiefs, or kamnan, to arrange for 20 people from each village to attend a gathering in front of Krabi provincial hall on Thursday to express their support for the 800-megawatt coal-fired power plant.

The letter caused Mr Sawetchat to be transferred from his position.

The project is one of two coal-fired power plants the government plans to develop in the southern region to serve rising demand for power as the economy grows.

The plants have been delayed since mid-2014 by previous protests.

However, more recently, Energy Minister Anantaporn Kanjanarat has insisted the project must proceed to meet energy demands.

Pinyo Meechumna, from Chulalongkorn's Department of Mining and Petroleum Engineering, is urging the government to approve the project.

Mr Pinyo, a member of a working panel appointed to review the project, said he had visited overseas coal-fired power plants with clean technology and there were no reports about health or environmental impacts.

However, he said all parties concerned must comply with laws and safety regulations to ensure that a coal-fired power plant poses no risks.

Citing a coal-fired power plant in Map Ta Phut, he said it has been in operation for 10 years without complaints about health and environment risks.

Meanwhile, the Central Administrative Court's Environment Division threw out a petition Thursday against the energy minister and four state agencies over their handling of the country's 2015 Power Development Plan (PDP).

The petition signed by Srisuwan Janya, president of the Stop Global Warming Association (SGWA) and 20 others, asked the Administrative Court to revoke the PDP and cancel any bidding process or construction of power plants under the plan.

The agencies are the Energy Policy and Planning Committee, the Energy Policy and Planning Office, the Energy Regulatory Commission and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

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