With power crisis getting continually worse in the country leaving both domestic and industrial users in great jeopardy, the government has decided to try and run Shikalbaha power station in full capacity throughout the year.
The 150 megawatt station in Chittagong set up in August 2010, which remains shut on average 220 days in a year due to shortage of gas supply and mechanical disorder, operated for only 142 days.
Considering its importance in the backdrop of yawning power crisis, the government has approved a plan to convert the Shikalbaha power station to a dual-fuel one, to reduce its dependence on gas and ensure unhindered production.
The conversion, completion of which is due at the end of winter next year, will cost the government Tk 222 crore, officials in Power Development Board (PDB) said.
The Power Division has already sent a purchase proposal to the Cabinet Division seeking go-ahead to repair and turn Shikalbaha as a duel-fuel power station, one official told the Daily Observer.
Converted to a dual-fuel one, its production cost from will rise four-fold from Tk 3 per unit now to Tk 12-14 per unit because imported fuel is expensive.
PDB believes that to meet power requirement in the country, especially Chittagong city, there is no alternative to keeping production of Shikalbaha station smooth and undisrupted.
Since it was launched four years ago, the Shikalbaha Power Station has been in production for 13,716 hours or for 571 days. Due to gas crisis and mechanical disorder, it remained closed for 21,169 hours or 882 days.
If not converted to dual-fuel, the power station may be fully closed soon.
The country including capital Dhaka and port city Chittagong has been rocked by round-the-year power shortage leading to frequent load shedding, thus affecting people's life and industrial production badly. That is why a decision has been taken to repair all old power stations and convert some stations to dual-fuel ones. Since the private sector rental power plants are further expensive and cannot remain in regular production despite supply of fuel at subsidized rates, the government is trying to increase generation at public sector power stations, the officials concerned said.