No power cuts, assures Minister

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The demand for electricity surged to a whopping 2500 MW on Friday (23) extending to the weekend making it the highest demand for electricity in recent months.

This is particularly owing to the prevailing and rising temperature. Officials however, assured that there won’t be any power cuts despite this continuing increase in demand, State Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ajith P. Perera told the Daily News.

“We have enough power on the National Grid. Our reservoir storage levels are satisfactory and fortunately for the Norochcholai power plant which is functioning smoothly, we will not have any power cuts,” he said.

Meanwhile, Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya addressing an event over the weekend remarked that more attention should be drawn to solar power which can meet the rising demand.

The Ceylon Electricity Board recorded an increase in peak power demand on Friday (23) to 2500 Megawatts before fluctuating to 2467 megawatts yesterday.

“While the demand is expected to surge in the coming days, particularly on weekdays, we are confident of handling the upsurge in consumption and can safely guarantee that there will not be any power cuts,” State Minister Perera said.

Attributing the surge in consumption to the prevailing high temperature he added that such weather conditions coupled with an increase of 10 percent demand for electricity year on year, increase the cost of power generation.

He added that for the moment only 40 percent of the total electricity requirement is generated by way of hydro power plant while the rest is generated by thermal power plants using diesel as fuel. He added that thermal power is very costly but the solar power could be generated at the lower cost.

“It is unfortunate that a country like Sri Lanka which benefits from such hot climes throughout the year is unable to generate solar power,” Minister Siyamabalapitiya said.

“The Cabinet of Ministers have decided to provide solar power panels free of charge to public in an effort to popularize and educate the general public on this,” he said.

The minister made these observations at ceremony to provide solar panels free of charge to the Rambukkana Hospital. Solar panels were also handed over to the Kegalle and the Aranayake Hospitals.

Minister Siyamabalapitiya said the consumer can get electricity free of charge and can sell the excess to the Ceylon Electricity Board. He also added that though a unit of electricity is provided to a household at a rate of Rs 4.00 an excessive unit of solar power is bought from them at a rate of Rs 22.00.

Minister Siyambalapitiya stated that so far the solar power panels are not popular as expected and the government has planned to provide them free of charge to institutions such as divisional secretariats, hospitals, temples etc.

Tussle over long term generation plan rages on

Issuing an ultimatum the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) has announced that they would initiate a ‘work-to-rule’ campaign in two weeks, if the government does not intervene and resolve issues relating to the Last Cost Long Term Generation Plan (LCLTGP).

Speaking to the Daily News, the unionist cite that the regulator for the power sector, the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) had engineered a plan of its own which they say is illegal.

“The PUCSL has created a LCLTGP setting aside the proposed plan by the CEB, which puts the power sector into disarray. It is due to this that that we don’t have a single plant in the pipeline.”

EBEU Executive Committee Member Athula Wanniarachchi told the Daily News, that they met with the Prime Minister last month, who was also of the opinion that the sector was in a disadvantaged due to the confusion.

“We have been protesting against this matter for months, and have not resorted to strike action due to the uncertain political climate. However we have realized that the government is yet to heed any interest and will therefore initiate a ‘work-to-rule’ in two weeks,” he said.

However State Minister for Power and Energy Minister Ajith P. Perera confirmed to the Daily News that the Ministry was working with CEB and other stakeholders to resolve the matter and promised a solution would be put forth within the next two weeks.

“I cannot detail the meetings but we are in discussions and will reach a solution.”

Meanwhile the PUCSL, released a report last year in November, stating that “Implementation issues pertaining to power plants identified in (LCLTGEP) has resulted in serious problems such as cost overruns and load shedding. The financial loss due to non-implementation/delaying of the approved power plants over the last 20years is enormous and the economic/impact of load shedding and high prices is much bigger. And the issue of implementation delays or non-implementation of power plants is not some past phenomena, but something very much prevalent even at present.”

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