U.S. envoy for restarting Enron's Dahbol plant

Tuesday, 18 February 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: U.S. Ambassador to India Robert D. Blackwill Monday met Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in an effort to help restart U.S. energy giant Enron's Dabhol power plant.
The plant of the Dabhol Power Company (DPC) has been shut for the past two years. The $3 billion Enron project went into limbo after the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) declared its inability to pay for the power, terming it too costly.

Blackwill told reporters that he was hoping the plant would restart as soon as possible so that its U.S. investors can recover their dues.

"It is an irony that we have the most modern power generation project so close to Mumbai but it is lying idle," Blackwill said.

"The project must become a solution to the problem (of power shortage) and not a problem to solution."

Efforts to restart the Enron project have been blocked again as investors such as General Electric and Bechtel that had invested in technology for the project are asking for several million dollars in consultancy fee to service the idle equipment, state officials said.

Both the central and state governments are negotiating for a reduction in such fee as a pre-condition for assessing the condition of the plant.

Blackwill, who has been touring several heritage sites in Maharashtra including the Elephanta caves near Aurangabad, said he was keen on boosting U.S. investment in Maharashtra.

According to a decision taken by the Maharashtra government in November 2002, it was to purchase power from the DPC at the rate of 2.80 per unit.

Maintenance work on the plant was to begin immediately but was affected by the maintenance fee issue.

Enron, along with its partners General Electric and Bechtel, originally owned 85 percent of the project, with the MSEB holding the rest.

Source: IANS
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