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Govt likely to lose Tk200cr as capacity payment

Hasan Arif
06 Jun 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 06 Jun 2023 00:02:57
Govt likely to lose Tk200cr as capacity payment
An areal view of 1,320MW coal-fired Payra Thermal Power Plant – Courtesy Photo

The government will have to pay Tk 7.66 crore in capacity payments per day since the two units of the Payra 1,320MW Thermal Power Plant in Patuakhali shut down completely on Monday due to no supply of coal.

The monthly capacity payment per unit of this power plant is Tk 115 crore, which takes the payment for two units to Tk 230 crore, according to Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) sources.

The two units of this power plant are capable of generating 1,320 megawatts of electricity using 12,000 tonnes of coal every day. It will remain closed until the coal supply resumes, officials said.

According to the purchase agreement signed by the government with the companies, the power plants have to pay a fixed rate of capacity charge monthly, even if electricity is not generated at full capacity or not purchased.

Payra power plant’s Superintend Engineer Shah Abdul Hasib told reporters that the LC has been opened to import coal. The first ship carrying coal is expected to arrive by the end of this month. The plant will resume operation then.”

However, the plant’s Assistant Manager Shahmani Zico said, “Operations will not resume this month. The plant may restart after the coal arrives next month.”

The Indonesian exporting company has sent coal on credit to the plant for six months on the first go and later for three months, which took the due amount to at least $39 million. As the plant could not clear the payments due to the dollar crisis, the company has stopped sending coal.

Production of the first unit at the Payra power plant started on May 15, 2020. The second unit started operating on December 8 of that year.

This plant has been supplying over 1,200MW of electricity per day, instead of 1,329MW, on average for quite some time. On May 25, one unit stopped production due to a coal shortage.

Since then, 300-620MW was being produced per day from the 660MW capacity second unit. It was supposed to run like this till June 2. However, it ran two more extra days when production was reduced. But from Monday, production has stopped completely.

The cost of fuel-based electricity ranges from Tk 16 to Tk 22 per unit. But the Payra plant sells electricity for only Tk 7.5 per unit.

In a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources in September 2022, the Power Division informed that the government has given Tk 16,785 crore to 90 public and private power plants in the first nine months (July-March) of FY2021-22 in capacity charges.

According to this, an average of Tk 1,865 crore was paid for these power plants every month, which means the plants’ companies received more than Tk 1,67,800 crore without generating electricity.

According to Power Division, all power plants in the country are capable of producing 25,700MW of electricity. But, so far, the highest power generation in a day has been 14,782MW.

According to BPDB officials, the Payra plant’s shutdown has worsened an already severe load-shedding situation across the country, taking the country's load shedding up to 2,675MW at 12pm Monday. It was 2,287MW on Sunday.

Referring to the data of the National Load Dispatch Centre (NLDC), a BPDB official said the country generated 12,099MW of electricity against a demand of 14,900 at 12pm on Monday.