The energy adviser yesterday called upon the industry regulator to consider tough actions against energy-guzzling consumers as the country continues to struggle to meet the gap between demand and supply of gas and electricity.
For the last six years, the Awami League government has been urging households, industries and other consumers to reduce their consumption of gas and electricity but in vain.
“Now, the time has come to provide them a deadline, through legal measures, for becoming energy efficient,” Taufiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to the prime minister, said during a seminar at Petrobangla office in Dhaka.
He said the consumers must be told that if they fail to improve their energy efficiency within the set deadline, they would be disconnected from the supplies.
The energy adviser, however, did not mention the timeframe. Rather, he requested the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), whose chairman was present at the seminar, to look for options.
Chowdhury said international experts also suggested that efficient usage can save up to one-third of energy.
The government declared August 9 National Energy Security Day, as on this day in 1975 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman bought five gas fields from Shell Oil Company at only £4.4 million -- a decision that is largely credited for meeting the country's energy needs over the last four decades.
State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said keeping coal underground would be of no good to the country.
Bangladesh is sitting on a coal reserve of more than three billion tonnes, whose heat generation capacity is equivalent to 37 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to official statistics.
“We have been able to produce only 2 percent of our total electricity from coal although we have huge reserves of high-quality coal, whereas India produces 60 percent of its electricity from coal,” said Sirajur Rahman Khan, director general of Geological Survey of Bangladesh.
“Time has come to explore coal to help the nation become self-sufficient in energy.”
Tajul Islam, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the energy and power ministry, said there are many new household appliances available in the market which consume one-third less electricity than the ones widely used by the Bangladeshis.
Subsequently, he urged the government to be tough on consumers using energy-intensive appliances.
Many countries have either imposed additional taxes on appliances that consume a lot of electricity or banned them, said the lawmaker, while urging the government to remove limitation of the laws to force consumers to save energy. BERC Chairman AR Khan said, if the country consumes less energy, the price of electricity will ultimately go down.
Eunusur Rahman, chairman of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, urged the government to increase manpower as the state-run lone oil importer has been running with almost the same staff count since 1977.
He said the consumers would have to save energy so that the country can take electricity to the 40 percent of the population who still do not have grid connection.
Shafiqur Rahman, secretary of Petrobangla, while making a presentation, said replacing old machineries at power plants and fertiliser factories with new energy-efficient ones could be an option to save energy.
On the occasion, Petrobangla introduced Energy Award. The first award went to Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration & Production Company Ltd for its contribution to the energy sector. Bapex Managing Director Abdul Baqi received the award on behalf of the state-run organisation. Petrobangla Chairman Hossain Monsur also spoke.