VIENTIANE, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) — Laos is planning to repay Thailand for debts incurred due to energy imports in previous years, local media reported on Monday.
Laos has accumulated debts to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to some 174 million U.S. dollars.
Lao state-run online newspaper Vientiane Times on Monday quoted an official from Electricite du Laos (EDL) as saying 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 sought 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 to 2009.
At that time, many Lao hydroelectric plants were still under construction and were not supplying power domestically.
Currently, EDL generates a surplus of electricity which is sold to Thailand and other neighboring countries.
According to Thai Energy News Center website’s report earlier this week, Director of the Energy Policy and Planning Office in Thailand, Twarath Sutabutra, said Laos is in debt to Thailand to the tune of nearly 6 billion baht (173 million billion U.S. dollars). 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 earlier this month to increase the purchase of electricity from 7,000 megawatts to 9,000 megawatts. The agreement stipulates an additional five interlinked power grid supplies.
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.