Notwithstanding an exponential growth in electricity generation, the repeated power tariff hikes across Bangladesh will only burden the consumers, eminent economist Dr Ahsan H Mansur has said.
“Electricity has to be provided at an affordable rate,” the executive director of Policy Research Institute (PRI), a think tank, said on Saturday at a webinar — ’50 years of Victory & Progress of Power Sector’ — organised by the Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB) in association with Bangladesh Independent Power Producers Association (BIPPA).
Though there is adequate electricity generation, Mansur said that “stable and quality power is not available”. “Bangladesh’s dependency on imported primary fuel will continue for a long as our own natural gas resource is not explored. Still there is a big challenge for mitigating primary fuel supply in ensuring energy security.”
The economists also urged the government to create more regulatory framework to facilitate greater participation of the private sector in power distribution and transmission business.
Prime Minister’s Energy Advisor Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury and State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, and BIPPA President Imran Karim also spoke on the occasion, with FERB Chairman Arjun Karmaker presiding over the function.
Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain made a keynote presentation on the issue, while FERB Executive Director Shamim Jahangir conducted the seminar.
Dr Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury said the country is now facing the second-phase challenge of ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply at affordable prices. “Time has not yet come to consider power as a private commodity. We have to pay attention to efficient operation, energy efficiency and energy responsibility,” he said.
He also urged the agencies concerned to work on energy storage facilities to find out the best option. “Else, we cannot take the advantage of renewable energy.”
On his part, Nasrul Hamid said that initially the power sector had to face the challenge of power generation in the shortest possible time when the Awami League government assumed power in 2009.
“After achieving the first target, now the challenge is to provide electricity to all people by 2020 and ensure its uninterrupted supply,” he added.
Imran Karim said the country’s private entrepreneurs now generate about 50% of total electricity. He also urged the government to create a more conducive environment for the private sector to invest in large projects in the power sector.