A group of 50 civil society organisations and climate movement platforms across the world have demanded that the government not consider Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Ltd as the consultant for the next review process of the Power System Master Plan (PSMP).
The demand letter, signed by the respective organisations, was sent to Planning Minister MA Mannan, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid, and Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Forest and Climate Change Saber Hossain Chowdhury via email this morning, according to a press release.
Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Shinichi Kitaoka, and TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa were also among the recipients of the letter.
The signatories of the letter argued that TEPCO has a serious conflict of interest over the power and energy sector in Bangladesh, hence, is not qualified to be a consultant of the next PSMP, the press release said.
They also demanded the cancellation of all future coal projects in the pipeline and work towards the target of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 in the next PSMP, it said.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), Campaign for Good Governance (SUPRO), Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL), Land and Nature Safeguard Platform (LNSP) and Nagorik Sanghati are among the signatories from Bangladesh.
Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Friends of Earth Japan, Urgewald Germany, Oil Change International US, International Accountability Project (IAP) US, Growthwatch India, NGO Forum on ADB are among the international signatories of the letter.
TEPCO was the consultant of the PSMP 2010 and the revised PSMP in 2016. They admitted that the national power demand projection stipulated in PSMP 2010 was impractical, therefore, was changed accordingly in 2016.
However, the revised projection is still too high, according to experts in the sector.
After the formulation of PSMP 2010, TEPCO started working as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and engineering consultant for the Matarbari 1200MW coal-fired power project and the Anowara-Matarbari 400 kv transmission line project. TEPCO is also a front-runner candidate as EIA and engineering consultant for the Matarbari Kohelia coal power project.
TEPCO has also joined in implementing the expansion of Haripur power plant, power sector capacity building, and constructing an underground substation for Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (DESCO).
"TEPCO can't be involved in both power policy formulation and the project implementation process. It is clearly a conflict of interest between its position as a policymaker and implementer," said Hasan Mehedi, member secretary of the Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt.
The signatories also argued that the price of renewables has been consistently plummeting since the last decade.
Bangladesh has the capacity of generating 156,000 MW electricity from Solar Photovoltaic and another 150,000 MW from offshore wind, at a cost which is lower than new coal power plants, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Technology Sydney.
However, TEPCO estimated only 10% power generation from renewables by 2030 in PSMP 2010, 7% by 2041 in PSMP 2016 and only 3.8% by 2041 in the revisited PSMP 2016.
Hence, it is clear that options of renewable sources were intentionally ignored by TEPCO and forced the PSMP to reflect on excessive dependency on fossil fuels, especially coal and LNG, in order to further its business in Bangladesh, according to the release.