Laos to repay Thai debts with electricity
VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Lao electricity officials expect to repay Thai electricity authorities for debts incurred due to energy imports in previous years, with repayments having already begun.
Laos has accumulated debts to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to the value of approximately 6 billion baht ($173 million).
An official from Electricite du Laos (EDL) told Vientiane Times on Monday that EDL has incurred this debt over a period of time but that EGAT had not requested payment of the debt so far.
“We may not repay with money but we will be able to pay them back with electricity,” he said.
The amount of power generated by EDL in Laos has grown rapidly while domestic usage has remained relatively stable.
Laos and Thailand exchange electricity via EDL and EGAT. When Laos has a shortage of electricity because of population or business growth, it can souce electricity from Thailand through its transmission lines.
The official said Laos had accumulated debt after using more electricity from Thailand, estimating that the debts started to mount up in 2008 or 2009.
During this time, energy consumption was needed to supply the nation with power to fuel economic growth.
At that time, many hydroelectric plants were still under construction and were not supplying power domestically.
These days, EDL generates a surplus of electricity which is sold to Thailand and other neighbouring countries.
According to the Energy News Centre website report on September 21, Director of the Energy Policy and Planning Office in Thailand, Mr Twarath Sutabutra, discussed cross border power sharing during a seminar titled “Contributions of Prof Dr Bunrod Bin Sants to Thai society”.
Mr Twarath said Laos is in debt to Thailand to the tune of nearly 6,000 million baht. It has set up a working group to review the framework for cooperation in the exchange of electricity between EGAT and EDL, to find ways to free EDL from its debt.
It may be up to Laos to increase electricity through transmission lines at more than two points in order to compensate for Lao electricity deficits.
EGAT has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EDL to increase the purchase of electricity from 7000 megawatts to 9000 megawatts, which was inked on September 6, 2016.
The agreement stipulates an additional five interlinked power grid supplies, those being Theun Hinboun, Huay Ho, Nam Theun 2, Nam Ngum 2, and the Hongsa coal-fired power plant with extra total capacity of 3578 MW.
Thailand and Laos also signed a cooperation agreement for the exchange of electricity between EGAT and EDL, with Laos to supply an extra 494 MW if there is excess electricity, which can be sent to Thailand via the transmission lines.
Meanwhile, in the case of a power shortage in Laos, Thailand will sell electricity back to Laos through the same transmission lines.