More to cause economy to bleed further
It is indeed unfortunate that the government has decided to allow the installation of more power plants run on liquid fuel — particularly expensive diesel and furnace oil — which have already caused the country’s economy to bleed profusely. As New Age reported on Thursday, the Bangladesh Power Development Board signed a contract on Wednesday with a local private firm to buy electricity from its furnace oil-fired plant to be installed at Narayanganj at a whopping Tk 14.39 a unit. Moreover, according to the deal, the power board will buy electricity from the plant from August 1, 2013 for 15 years. Besides, it has also extended recently the power purchase agreements with a number of rental power producers for varying periods, evidently, in contravention of the pledges by the government key functionaries on more occasions than one to gradually retire the quick, rental plants soon apparently in the face of growing public criticism against such options. That apart, the power board also consented to the recent advice made by the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission to significantly reduce the average power generation cost which has skyrocketed to Tk 6.5 a unit from Tk 2.64 a unit in the 2009–10 financial year with the introduction of fuel oil-fired power plants in particular.
It is needless to point out that it is the consumers at large who have had to bear the brunt of that staggering increase in the cost of power production as the energy commission has increased the bulk and retail power prices by around 70 per cent and 33 per cent in 14 months on the plea to offset the losses the power board incurred. To add to the sufferings of the people at large who have been victims to unabated price spiral since the incumbents assumed office in 2009, another round of power tariff increase is on the cards on the same plea.
It may not be too much of a stretch to comment that, by allowing yet another fuel oil-run power plant, the government violates its own much-touted master plan that limits power generation by this option to around 17 per cent of the total generation as, at present, already about 30 per cent of the country’s total power comes from the plants fired by diesel and furnace oil. More intriguingly, in an apparent attempt at bypassing this question, the energy adviser to the prime minister, who hardly missed an opportunity to brag about the master plan thus far, has told New Age that ‘everything does not go precisely according to the plan.’
The government needs to realise that its decision to continue with the fuel oil option to generate power will necessarily lend credence to the widespread allegations that it is virtually serving the vested interests by sticking to such an option instead of other cheaper ones, particularly based on gas and coal. It immediately needs to revise the decision.
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