Vol. 4 Num 94 Fri. August 29, 2003  
Front Page

AES plant sell-out plan
Power div seeks PM's nod before ensuring reciprocal benefits

Even before ensuring reciprocal benefits for the country, the power division has sought the prime minister's approval to relax a rule allowing US company AES to sell its two power plants to British firm CDC Globeleq.

In July, an inter-ministerial meeting organised by the power division of the energy ministry resolved that the Power Development Board (PDB) may conditionally allow AES to transfer ownership of the 450 MW Meghnaghat and 360 MW Haripur plants to CDC Globeleq.

In exchange, the AES will have to give a number of benefits to the PDB and the government.

For one, the agreement with the AES that makes power purchase from the two plants mandatory and a top priority for the PDB has to be terminated. The PDB will also get the interconnection grid that the AES uses.

The meeting also felt the existing employees of the plants should continue to work for the sake of better maintenance and operation.

On the basis of a set of recommendations of a committee on the AES proposal, the meeting said the PDB should reach a consensus with the AES on relocating the 'demised corridor' through which plant affluent is discharged into the river. It blocks expansion of other power units there.

But till yesterday, the agreement on power purchase remained unresolved with the CDC wanting to cancel it once the government allowed it to buy the plant.

The PDB and CDC are in talks about who to foot the bill for relocating the 'demised corridor'.

The ministry suggests that the PDB should bear the cost of developing the discharge channel outside the Meghnaghat plant boundary while the CDC deals with the channel inside the boundary. This means the PDB will have to bear heavy costs.

About manpower, the CDC said it will retain the foreign and local staff up to 18 months after ownership hand-over as per their service contracts. But this proposal differs from what the inter-ministerial meeting had recommended.

The AES has been seeking the sell-off approval since December as its contracts with the government do not allow this during the first eight years of operation.

The contract also prohibits the AES from selling more than 49 per cent of its share in the projects before the same period.