Yingluck urges public, business sector to save energy now

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday admitted there is a risk of blackouts in some areas of Bangkok and the South on April 5 - the expected peak date for electricity usage - and called on all households and businesses to save energy now, to ensure there is reserve power for use on that date.

The PM urged the public to have confidence in the government's measures to tackle the expected power-supply crunch in April, when natural gas supplies from Myanmar will be disrupted due to routine maintenance of the Yadana gas field pipeline from April 5-14.

On her weekly TV programme "Yingluck Government Meets the People", the prime minister said the government was seeking additional power sources to ease the impact of a possible shortage in April.

The government has also launched an energy-conservation campaign to reduce the impacts of the shutdown, she said. State enterprises and government offices have been asked to take steps to save energy such as turning off lights for one hour a day and raising the setting on their air conditioners to 25 degrees Celsius. Factories were encouraged to suspend production on April 5.

Yingluck said the government had prepared for the worst by reserving bunker oil and diesel to run supplementary power plants. It may also have older power plants currently closed for repairs produce electricity during the period.

Myanmar's gas field shutdown would reduce the daily power supply by 6,400 megawatts, as one fourth of the amount of natural gas supplied to Thailand for electricity production will be cut. Each year, Thailand's gas supply from the Yadana field is suspended for pipeline maintenance during Songkran, when less natural gas is consumed. But this year the closure will begin on April 5, before the April 12-16 holidays.

Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA) Assistant Governor Wiwatchai Ratanarat said the agency would discuss plans to tackle the looming power-supply crisis on Wednesday with the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, Provincial Electricity Authority and related agencies. The MWA uses electricity amounting to 350 million kilowatts per year to produce 5 million cubic metres of tap water per day for households in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan around the clock.

Ayutthaya's provincial industry office plans to discuss measures to handle the power shortage in April with businesses at five industrial estates. Office head Prayoon Tingthong said Ayutthaya had many factories at its industrial estates and thus a high demand for power. A power plant in Wang Noi district was the main supplier, producing over 2,000MW per year. Plus, there is a power plant in the Rojana Industrial Park. He said the factories should be able to prepare themselves for the power-supply drop and plan their production management accordingly.

Surat Thani chamber of commerce president Suthat Lertmanorat said many businesses in the province were prepared for the supply drop in April and had reserved gasoline for electricity generators that could be used temporarily in case of emergency.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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