NEC / CEB: Relations in High Voltage!

8 years ago - April 22, 2013
Energy policy and the need for the proposed coal power plant of 100 MW in Pointe-aux-Caves, Albion, continue to debate with the backdrop of a real tussle between the National Energy Commission (NEC) and the Central Electricity Board (CEB).

Last Tuesday, the National Assembly, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Utilities, Rashid Beebeejaun, gave a taste of the high-voltage relationships between the two organizations, emphasizing the role of the CEB. Without giving air to respond tit for tat, the commission submitted Manraj the CEB and developers CT Power to a barrage of questions about the project from Albion station. At the end of May, the NEC intends to return to the charge with a report which forecasts prepared by the CEB for the period 2013-2022 will be questioned categorically.

With the establishment of the NEC, chaired by one of Senior Advisers to the Prime Minister's Office, the parliamentary opposition, particularly the member Joe Lesjongard, has spared no effort to dwell on the fact that the Department of Public Utilities has outlived its purpose and to difficulty in the No. 2 government Rashid Beebeejaun. But from the outset, anticipating the moves of the opposition, Rashid Beebeejaun tried quite shy parade arguing that " the commission has no legal powers and is purely advisory."

Despite assurances by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Guardianship, deputy Steeve Obeegadoo branded "total silence of the ministry When the critical debate on the future energy policy has-been going on the". To conclude it all, he joined his fellow opposition by asking " will the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister therefore agree that, given hardly any residual powers/role of his ministry, will he recommend the aboliton of his ministry ?

The role purely advisory attributed to the NEC by Rashid Beebeejaun has not dampened the enthusiasm for all members of the Committee Manraj who continue their weekly discussions to submit an initial report to the government at the end of May. The first duplication of information indicate that the main recommendations of the NEC will promote the policy for the exploitation of new and renewable energy sources for years to come. The stated objective of this first report of the NEC will demonstrate that, contrary to the position of the CEB, the exploitation of new and renewable energy is the future of the country. This report is currently being prepared, will propose a series of policy decisions, including the establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund, with a mode of self-financing by the energy sector. This fund will oversee efforts to promote projects in the niche renewable energy at the expense of coal.

Looking ahead to promote a consistent energy policy prijectMaurice Ile Durable (MID), the NEC is preparing to commit in a demolition job growth forecasts and energy consumption Learned Integrated Energy Plan 2013-2022 presented officially by the CEB. This responsibility was given to members by a part of the two sub-committees of the NEC. A Demand-Supply Matrix developed from the PowerPoint Presentation by the CEB will be the springboard for this against-analysis of the Integrated Energy Plan.

More transparency

However, in the immediate future, the series of questions developed by the members of the NEC addressed to CEB and developers of CT Power on the procedures adopted for the selection of thermal coal plant commands attention. Sources who had access to the questionnaire stated that "this represents a real indictment of the CEB and the Ministry of Public Utilities."

So one of the first questions challenging the formula Unsolicited Bid adopted by the CEB CT Power project. Members of the NEC are interested to learn about the circumstances and conditions under which " the Mauritius CT Power was awarded the contract for setting up a coal-fired plant in Mauritius".

NEC adds that for projects requiring investments of more Rs 100 million, the Open Request for Tenders are appropriate. This forum asks " why has the CEB, to protect public interest and seek the most competitive bid, not insisted on an open request for bids ? How can the CEB be sure that the Mauritian nation is getting the most advantageous bid, technically and financially, in the absence of an open bid ?" The NEC was interested to read the comments of the former Central Tender Board before the CEB approach to promote CT Power.

NEC is unacceptable that so far, the CEB is not able to reveal the cost per kilowatt hour bought CT Power. " Is there any clause in the contract which gaurantees CEB that the price at which it will purchase electricity from Mauritius CT Power will not be too high ? What will be the expected selling price (per kWh) of CT Power to the CEB and the expected IRR on investment ?" The committee calls Manraj transparency CEB on imports of coal, cost, freight and other annual charges to be incurred. " What are those charges ? How much do those amount to annually ? What about additional charges regarding interconnection facilities ?" adds the document sent to the CEB.

Disaster preparedness and management plan

The construction of a jetty at a cost of Rs 600 million for the landing of coal in Pointe-aux-Caves also concerned members Manraj commission. The CEB is expected to reveal if preliminary studies have already been initiated in ve EIA Report for this important infrastructure.

Issues on the proposed landing pier are multiple, or " in the event of a jetty at Pointe-aux-Caves, there will be no doubt another coal yard at Pointe-aux-Caves. As far as we know no EIA has been submitted regard this coal yard. Could CEB enlighten us ? Has the CEB worked out the overall, including environmental, costs of such an endeavour ?" Or when work will begin construction of the pier, the details of the Seaway set to Pointe-aux-Caves planned landing facilities as well as the exact site of the pier from the " plant's water intake and water outfall locations"

That part of " disaster preparedness and management plans" is also part of the oral exam which is under the CEB. Clause 31 of the EIA license is provision in the case of negative impacts on the marine environment and ecosystem, thermal coal plant will halt its operations. " In the event of CT Power having to be shut down on account of a negative impact on the marine environment and the associated eco-system being detected, how will CEB cope with the immediate loss of 100 MW capacity from the national grid ? What will be the impact on the economy and the population ? The CEB does it have already a disaster plan in cas of spill of ash ponds and othe similar accidents ? Have the flashfloods of Saturday 30 March impacted CEB's existing coal storage facilities. What has been the environmental aspect ? "said the NEC in its Advisory Capacity.

Anyway, all legitimate questions with CEB aims to enlighten the public about the risks with thermal coal power plant of 100 MW in Pointe-aux- Caves, announced theoretically in 27 months from September ...

 

Text by Le Mauricien

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