Thai power plant draws huge crowd

Eastern Power & Electricity Co. (EPEC), an international consortium, looks set to build a $250 million gas-fired electric generating plant in Thailand. Some 2,000 people have registered to participate in a state-arranged public hearing, though only half are expected to turn up.


Bangkok�Eastern Power & Electricity Co. (EPEC), an international consortium, looks set to build a $250 million gas-fired electric generating plant in Thailand.

On the eve of a 2-day public hearing in Samut Prakarn to discuss questions concerning the investment, EPEC Director David Michaels spoke of the firm's readiness to get the 350-Mw project off the ground. Some 2,000 people have registered to participate in the state-arranged public hearing, though only half are expected to turn up.

The firm expressed confidence there will be a favorable conclusion to the Bang Bo scheme, one of the seven major power projects licensed under Thailand's independent power producer program.

Michaels suggested most of the people living near the plant site, 50 km southeast of Bangkok, "feel comfortable" with the project and understand that the facility uses clean-burning natural gas as fuel.

Wastewater next door
But there is a concern among EPEC executives that some at the public hearing may link the EPEC plant with a wastewater treatment project next door, which has generated opposition.

Michaels insisted there is no connection between the two projects. He said the public hearing is organized with EPEC's support, although there is no legal requirement to do so, according to the company.

"We take a proactive approach to organize it to clear whatever doubts they may have," Michaels added.

EPEC has already completed financing for the project. A group of international banks, including Citigroup Inc.'s Citibank, Tokai Bank Ltd., BNP Paribas, and Cr�t Agricole have agreed to lend a combined $160 million to the project.

The remaining project fund requirement will be met largely by equity contributed by the four EPEC partners�Bangkok's GMS Power (32%), France's TotalFinaElf SA(28%), Japan's Marubeni Corp. (28%), and China Development Bank of Taiwan (12%).

The consortium expects ABB AG unit ABB Alstom to begin construction of the combined-cycle power plant soon after the public hearing, with completion scheduled for July 2002. The project will deliver power to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand under a long-term contract.

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