The decision by the National Energy Policy Committee (NEPC) is part of Thailand's policy to encourage electricity joint ventures between the Lao government and private Thai partners, Pridiyathorn told reporters.
"Most power projects currently under development in Laos already have their output committed for sale. This decision will encourage private Thai producers to invest in Laos," he said after chairing an NEPC meeting.
Last month, Thai Energy Minister Piyasvasti Amranand said plans to build hydropower projects with neighboring Myanmar were put off. Instead, Piyasvasti, part of the cabinet installed after a military coup overturned Thailand's government in September, said he foresaw increased purchases of hydropower from Laos. (HNN 10/20/06)
Laos is building, or has proposed to build, at least five hydropower projects in a bid to become the "battery of the region" and reduce poverty among its 5.8 million people.
The largest of them, the $1.45 billion, 1,070-MW Nam Theun 2 project, is expected to come on line in 2009. (HNN 11/6/06) Most of the power from Nam Theun 2 has been pre-sold to Thailand, where environmental groups have stymied new dam building.