The Electricity Board will not be privatized, Minister assures

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will be not privatized, the Minister of Power, Energy, and Business Development Ravi Karunanayake has assured while emphasizing that cost of electricity generation must be reduced for the agency to be profitable.

The Minister made this assertion while participating in the opening of the Distribution Sector 4 Headquarters Complex of the Ceylon Electricity Board recently.

The Minister pointed out that action was being taken to protect the Ceylon Electricity Board with responsibility on behalf of the consumers.

�The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is an institution that provides essential services to the people of this country. We need to work with financial discipline. We need to consider the cost to the CEB for the service it provides to the people. So we have to think about whether we want to be stuck in one place or to move on. The CEB, which has made a name for itself for 50 years, needs to be further developed,” he said.

The Minister noted that the electricity bill has been a huge pressure on the consumer and steps must be taken to reduce it.

“The best way to reduce the cost of electricity is to reduce cost of generation. We have to select the right sources for energy generation. Coal, LNG will be a great help. We are constantly talking about these. But it doesn’t work. Even if there are obstacles, we must overcome them and move on. CEB is the best organization that can make a difference in this country. If we don’t change the way the world changes, we get stuck.”

He reminded that about 40 percent of the country’s forward program is based on the power sector and a power outage for a day or two is a big problem for the country.

“On a daily basis there are many power outages anywhere in the country. We are always in fear. We fear that if one generator breaks, the power will be off. We are still generating electricity from machines that are 25 to 30 years old due to signing of the agreements. It costs a lot to produce one unit. Why don’t we change these? That’s why I think we need to make a change.”

He said the country can be developed through competition. “The concept of giving away everything free is impractical for any political party. We must constantly reduce production costs. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the price of electricity. This will bring about rapid growth of the country.”

The Minister said the plans of the Ceylon Electricity Board have been announced in 2018 and 2019 stating that LNG technology should be used to generate electricity. It has also received the approval of the Public Utilities Commission but the CEB is still unable to implement the measures due to some obstacles.

“Why are we delaying these steps? There will be obstacles. But it definitely has to be done. Some people blame us about an oil mafia. We need to think long and hard about these issues. The best way to do this is to switch to renewable energy. We should add renewable energy whenever possible.”

The Minister revealed that a Cabinet paper would be submitted next week with regard to every new home and business buildings. If it is a house with more than 7500 square feet, 20 or 25 percent renewable energy should be added to it. If it is a business building and is more than 10,000 square feet, it is mandatory to add renewable energy.

“This must be done to eliminate the loss for CEB. There is an electricity demand of around Rs. 22 billion today. However, we have not been able to meet the demand. This is an obstacle to the development of the country. Who’s responsible for these?” “If we can produce a unit of electricity at the lowest cost, that’s the maximum profit we can get. This is the change we need to make. If the cost of an electricity unit costing approximately Rs. 23 can be brought down to Rs.17 at 16, around Rs. 110 billion can be saved annually. This is the right thing for us to do,” the Minister explained.

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