The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) launched the newest customer care facility ‘CEB Care App’ for the use of its 6.5 million customers to lodge their complaints, check their balance of payment, obtain the amount of power used and for many more facilities in a few minutes without waiting in a queue.

PIC BY KITHSIRI DE MEL.The team leader that created the App, Electrical Engineer Jagath Samarawickrama receives a certificate of appreciation from Minister Ravi Karunanayaka at the launching ceremony.

Other facilities available through the CEB Care App are the information on the previous or last bill, summary of bill payment, complaints on breakdowns or blackouts, how the tariff has been counted in addition to on-line payment of bills.

Consumers can download or install the CEB Care

App and log into through ‘Play Store or App Store by providing the e-mail address, national ID number, user name and a password.

The consumer must also download Bill account number, Bill premises IDT to enter the CEB Care App. A consumer could enter up to five accounts to the App using this system.

Addressing the gathering at the BMICH, Minister Ravi Karunanayaka said the CEB would not be much concerned on its losses but to give the best service to the consumer.

“There is something wrong in the CEB system if it sells a unit of power at Rs. 45 to one section of the public while others pay only Rs. 22 per unit. I believe that this is unfair. Therefore, we must phase out the power generation and power purchase for exorbitant prices a unit and sell it to the consumer at a loss,” Minister Karunanayaka stressed.

Minister Karunanayaka lamented that ‘Suriya

Bala Sangramaya’ of solar power project has led to a plethora of misdeeds and misappropriations and when he attempted to rectify it a lot of misinformation and fabrications have been spread saying that the Power, Energy and Business Development Ministry was in a move to weaken the project which is not correct and added that what the Ministry was doing was to streamline the solar power generation on a level playing field for everyone to benefit. He commended and thanked the teem of 9 young electrical engineers of the CEB for the creation of the CEB Care App which is considered one of the turning point of customer care service sector of the CEB.

Ministry Secretary Dr.suren Batagoda and CEB Chairman Rakhitha Jayawardana also spoke.


The Power sector in the country has been thrown into deeper crisis as not a single power station was added to the national grid during the past few years to meet the rising demand. To make matters worse even those power stations that were scheduled to be built were also halted putting aside the years of planning done by engineers while bringing forth the business interests of a few individuals and organized groups to suit their whims and fancies. Allying with business associates to earn a quick buck through under hand dealings has led to a tug of war while purposely delaying of Power Plant tenders has led to a crisis situation in the country which has helped the same groups to fish in the troubled waters. It is most unfortunate that many political heavy-weights, top officials in the ministry as well as members and officers in the self-proclaimed ‘independent’ Public Utilities Commission represent this business cartel.
While it is essential that at least 150MW of power is added to the National Grid every year to meet the ever-rising demand, the failure to do so has been blamed shamelessly on the ongoing drought and the defects of Norochcholai Power Station.

The Island: CEB engineers threaten trade union action

by Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) officials yesterday warned of trade union action unless the government implemented the proposed Least Cost Long Term Generation Plan. They alleged that the country lost Rs. 200 billion as the Sampur coal-fired power plant had not been constructed.

Fielding questions, Former CEBEU President/ Executive Member Janaka Aluthge told The Island that the Long Term Generation Plan had to be implemented urgently.

He said that high Ministry officials and the electricity regulator, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) were the biggest stumbling blocks that had delayed their proposals and recommendations.CEBEU President Saumya Kumarawadu, addressing a media briefing yesterday in Colombo said that the country had lost Rs. 42 billion as the CEB had failed to adopt the Medium Term Solutions. “We recommended constructing power stations which are fueled by Heavy Furnace oil (HFO) to produce electricity at Rs. 20 or d Rs. 24 per unit.”

He said 100MW and 24×4 power stations fueled by HFO had been delayed by the Ministry Secretary. Due to the 15-year delay in constructing the first coal fired plant, the country had lost Rs. 900 billion, he added.

Former CEBEU President/ Executive Member Athula Wanniarachchi said they would not endorse emergency power purchases due to exorbitant costs.

Lankadeepa: ලංවිම-කොමිසමේ ගැටුම විසඳෙන තෙක් කැබිනට් රැස්වීමට එන්නේ නෑ

ලංකා විදුලි බල මණ්ඩලයත් , මහජන උපයෝගිතා කොමිෂන් සභාවත් අතර ඇති වී තිබෙන අර්බුදය විසඳා ගන්නා තෙක් තමා කැබිනට් රැස්වීම්වලට සහභාගි නොවන බව ජනාධිපති මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන මහතා අද (2) කැබිනට් රැස්වීමේදී ප්‍රකාශ කර ඇතැයි රජයේ ආරංචි මාර්ග සඳහන් කරයි.

මහජන උපයෝගිතා කොමිෂන් සභාව විදුලි බල මණ්ඩලයට එරෙහිව නඩු පැවරීම සම්බන්ධයෙන්ද අදහස් දක්වා ඇති ජනාධිපතිවරයා රජයේ ආයතනයක් තවත් රජ්‍ය ආයතනයකට එරෙහිව නඩු පැවැරීම කිසිසේත් අනුමත කළ නොහැකි බවද පවසා ඇත.
මෙවැනි ක්‍රියාවලින් එම ආයතන පිරිහීමට ලක්වනවා මෙන්ම පරිභෝගික ජනතාවද පීඩනයට පත්වන බව ජනාධිපති මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන මහතා ප්‍රකාශ කර ඇතැයි දැනගන්නට තිබේ.

එබැවින් මෙම අර්බුදය වහා විසඳා ගත යුතු බවද ජනාධිපතිවරයා සඳහන් කර ඇත.

මේ අතර මහජන උපයෝගිතා කොමිෂන් සභාවේ අධ්‍යක්ෂ ජනරාල්වරයාගේ ක්‍රියාකලාපය සම්බන්ධයෙන් ජනාධිපතිවරයා දැඩිව විවේචනය කර ඇතැයි වාර්තා වේ.–%E0%B6%9C%E0%B7%90%E0%B6%A7%E0%B7%94%E0%B6%B8-%E0%B7%80%E0%B7%92%E0%B7%83%E0%B6%B3%E0%B7%99%E0%B6%B1-%E0%B6%AD%E0%B7%99%E0%B6%9A%E0%B7%8A-%E0%B6%9A%E0%B7%90%E0%B6%B6%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%B1%E0%B6%A7%E0%B7%8A-%E0%B6%BB%E0%B7%90%E0%B7%83%E0%B7%8A%E0%B7%80%E0%B7%93%E0%B6%B8%E0%B6%A7-%E0%B6%91%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%8A%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%9A-%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%91/101-548243

Daily Mirror: Scrap PUCSL; Avoid darkness

I have been persistently and repeatedly requesting the scrapping of Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL), for the simple reason, its inter-references with, especially the Ceylon Electricity Board [CEB] and objecting to the Coal Power Project, included in the Least Cost, Long Term Generation Plan, prepared by experts, taking into consideration all factors, both local, foreign, its own organisation and consumers. If the plan of the CEB was accepted, we would not have faced these miserable power cuts, taking advantage of the provision in the Paris Accord, where we had the “right to revise the intended national contributions and targets at any point of time and consider the INDCS to be a living document that should be integrated with changed/modified national development goals and targets”.

Further, advertisements appear from PUCSL, calling for tenders to shift electric posts, a task which the CEB and LECO did efficiently.the most hilarious recent one was, requesting consumers to inform PUCSL of power interruptions, when the usual practice was to contact the local depot of CEB or LECO, trespassing on to the private domain of citizens. Is that also included in the PUCSL Act to harass the consumers.

This is a clear case of PUCSL usurping the duties of CEB and the Minister. In utter desperation, a newspaper report states CEB has arranged for an alms-giving at Mousakelle to invoke divine power – Rain God to come down with torrential rains. This sounds to me, is a defeatism with no self reliance to tackle the problem. Even if one believes in divine power, will the divine power encourage and save the crooks who willingly perpetuated this crisis.?

Since the reshuffle of Ministers in 1988, who did not understand this vital subject and took upon themselves the responsibility. One thing that flourished was Bribery, Corruption, fraud and inefficiency, luring the Public Officers, to tow the line.

The Board of Directors of the CEB should in all earnestness, prevail upon the Minister to have at least CEB excluded from PUCSL, strangulation, else the Ministry, the Board of Directors of CEB, will merely stand as effigies [Pambayas] drawing high salaries and perks.

Lankadeepa: විදුලිය කපන්න වුණේ බලාගාර ‌‌‌‌නොහැදූ නිසයි

මෙවැනි අර්බුදකාරී තත්වයකදී කඩිනම් පිලියම් යොදනවා වෙනුවට අමාත්‍යාංශය විසින් විකල්ප විදුලි උත්පාදන ක්‍රම සොයමින් සිටීම ගැටලුකාරී තත්වයක් වන අතර තව ටික දිනකින් මේ අර්බුදය තවත් නරක අතට පත්වී පැය ගණන් විදුලිය, වැසි නැති තත්වය තවදුරටත් පැවතුනහොත් ජලාශ සිදී කොලඹට පානීය ජලය සැපයීමටත් නොහැකි තත්වයකට පත් වනු ඇත

අලුත් අවුරුද්දෙන් පසු විදුලි අර්බුදය උග්‍රවන බව ඉංජිනේරුවන් කියයි – Hiru News

සිංහල සහ දෙමළ අලුත් අවුරුද්දෙන් පසු විදුලි ඉල්ලූම යළි ඉහළ යනු ඇති බව විදුලි ඉංජිනේරු සංගමය පවසනවා.

එහි සභාපති සෞම්‍ය කුමාරවඩු හිරු ප්‍රවෘත්ති අංශය කළ විමසීමකදී මෙම අදහස් පළ කළා.

මේ අතර විෂයභාර අමාත්‍ය රවී කරුණානායක කොළඹ අද පැවති උත්සවයකින් අනතුරුව මාධ්‍යවේදීන් නැගූ ප්‍රශ්නවලට පිළිතුරු ලබාදෙමින් කියා සිටියේ අප්‍රේල් 10 වනදා වනවිට විදුලි අර්බුදය නිමා වන බවයි.

කෙසේ වෙතත් විදුලි සැපයුම සම්බන්ධයෙන් හිරු ප්‍රවෘත්ති අංශයට අදහස් දැක්වූ විදුලි ඉංජිනේරුවන්ගේ සංගමයේ සභාපති සෞම්‍ය කුමාරවඩු කියා සිටියේ අලුත් අවුරුදු නිවාඩුවත් සමඟ කර්මාන්තශාලා වසා දැමීම හේතුවෙන් විදුලි ඉල්ලුම පහත වැටෙනු ඇති බවයි.

එහෙත් අප්‍රේල් විස්ස පමණ වනවිට යළිත් විදුලි ඉල්ලුම ඉහළ යන බැවින් ප්‍රමාණවත් පරිදි වැසි නොලැබුණහොත් යළි විදුලි අර්බුදය උග්‍ර වනු ඇති බවයි ඔහු කියා සිටියේ.

මේ වනවිට වික්ටෝරියා ජලාශයේ ජල මට්ටම සියයට 38.8 ක් ලෙස ලෙස සටහන් වන අතර, කොත්මලේ ජලාශයේ ජල මට්ටම අද වනවිට සටහන් වන්නේ 33.8 ක් ලෙසයි.

රන්ටැඹේ ජලාශය සියයට 8.8 දක්වා සීග්‍ර පහත වැටීමක් පෙන්නුම් කරනවා.

කාසල්රී ජලාශයේද ජල මට්ටම සියයට 11 ක් ලෙස සටහන් වන අතර, මාවුස්සාකැලේ සහ සමනලවැව ජලාශවලද ජල මට්ටම අඩුවී තිබෙනවා.

වළාකුළු සහ ජල වාෂ්ප නොමැතිවීම නිසා මාවුස්සාකැලේ ජලාශය ආශ්‍රිත ප්‍රදේශවල ක්‍රියාත්මක වූ කෘත්‍රිම වැසි ඇති කිරීමේ ක්‍රියාවලියද තාවකාලිකව අත්හිටුවීමට පියවර ගත් බවයි විදුලිබල මණ්ඩලය සඳහන් කළේ.

[Ada Derana] විදුලි අර්බුදය තවත් උග්‍ර වන ලකුණු?

 ලංකා විදුලිබල මණ්ඩලයේ ඉන්ජිනේරු සංගමය පෙන්වා දෙන්නේ අප්‍රේල් මාසය අවසන් වන විට වැසි නොලැබුණහොත් විදුලි අර්බුදය තවත් උග්‍ර වන බවයි.

මේ දිනවල දිවයිනේ ප්‍රදේශ සියල්ලෙහිම වරින්වර සිදුවන විදුලි කප්පාදුව සියලු දෙනාගේම කතාබහට ලක්ව ඇති මාතෘකාවකි.

මෙරට දෛනික උපරිම විදුලි අවශ්‍යතාව මෙගාවොට් 2600ක් වුවත් ඉන් ජාතික විදුලි පද්ධතියට මේ වනවිට සපයනු ලබන්නේ මෙගාවොට් 2260 ක උපරිමයක් පමණයි.

එලෙස සැපයෙන විදුලියෙන් මෙගාවොට් 500ක පමණ ප්‍රමාණයක් ජල විදුලියෙන් උත්පාදනය කරයි.

ඉතිරි මෙගාවොට් 1760ක ප්‍රමාණය සපුරා ගන්නේ ඩීසල්, දැවිතෙල් හා ගල් අඟුරු ඇතුළු තාප විදුලියෙනි.

මෙලෙස මෙගාවොට් 340ක හිඟයක් සහ ජල විදුලි බලාගාර ආශ්‍රිත ජලාශ වල ජල මට්ටම සීග්‍රෙයන් පහළ බැස ඇති පසුබිමක මෙරට විදුලි අවශ්‍යතාව තවදුරටත් සපුරාලීමට විදුලිබල මණ්ඩලයට හැකිවේවිද ?

පවතින වියළි කාලගුණයත් සමඟ විදුලි බලාගාර ආශ්‍රිත ජලාශ රැසක ජල ධාරිතාවය 30% ටත් වඩා පහළ බැස තිබේ.

ඒ අනූව කාසල්රි ජලාශයේ ජල ධාරිතාවය 9.8% දක්වා පහළ බැස ඇති අතර එම ජලාශය ආශ්‍රිත විමලසුරේන්ද්‍ර, පැරණි ලක්ෂපාන, නව ලක්ෂපාන, කැනියොන් සහ පොල්පිටිය විදුලි බලාගාර වල විදුලි උත්පාදන මෙගා වොට් 378.5 සිට මෙගා වොට් 168 දක්වා පහළ බැස තිබේ.

සමනල වැව ජලාශයේ ධාරිතාවයද මේ වන විට 18.2% දක්වා පහළ බැස ඇති අතර එහි විදුලි බලාගාරයෙන් මෙගා වොට් 120ක් උත්පාදනය කළ හැකි වුවත් මේ වන විට උත්පාදනය කෙරෙන්නේ මෙගා වොට් 40ක් පමණයි.

33% දක්වා ධාරිතාවය පහළ ගොස් ඇති කොත්මලේ ජලාශයෙන් ක්‍රියාත්මක මෙගාවොට් 201ක් උත්පාදනය කළ හැකි  කොත්මලේ බලාගාරයේ විදුලි උත්පාදනය ඊයේ රාත්‍රිය වන විට සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම නැවතී තිබුණි.

එමෙන්ම මෙගා වොට් 150ක් නිෂ්පාදනය කළ හැකි ඉහළ කොත්මලේ බලාගාරයෙන් මේ වන විට නිෂ්පාදනය කෙරෙන්නේ මෙගා වොට් 50ක් පමණයි.

වික්ටෝරියා ජලාශයේ ධාරිතාවයද 36.3% දක්වා පහළ ගොස් ඇති පසුබිමක මෙගා වොට් 195ක් උත්පාදනය කළ හැකි වික්ටෝරියා විදුලි බලාගාරයෙන් මේ වන විට උත්පාදනය කෙරෙන්නේ මෙගා වොට් 47යි.

කෙසේ වෙතත් රන්දෙණිගල ජලාශයේ 88.1%ක ජල ධාරිතාවයක් අද පෙරවරුව වන විට පැවතුණද, මෙගා වොට් 116ක් ජාතික විදුලි බලපද්ධතියට එක්කළ හැකි රන්දෙණිගල බලාගාරයේ විදුලි ජනන කටයුතු සිදුකෙරෙන්නේ රාත්‍රි කාලයේ පමණයි.

පවතින ජල ගැටලුවත් සමඟ රන්ටැඹේ, උකුවෙල කුකුළේ ගඟ විදුලි බලාගාර වලින් විදුලි උත්පාදනයද රාත්‍රි කාලයට පමණක් සීමා කර තිබේ.

එමෙන්ම ඉඟිනියාගල ජල විදුලි බලාගාරයේ විදුලි ජනන කටයුතුද ඊයේ රාත්‍රි වන විට නවතා දමා තිබුණි.

මේ අතර කාසල්රි සහ මවුස්සාකැලේ ජල පෝෂක ප්‍රදේශවලට කෘත්‍රිම වැසි ඇති කිරිමට ශ්‍රී ලංකා ගුවන් හමුදාව දියත් කළ වැඩසටහනද මේ වන විට තාවකාලිකව නවතා දමා තිබේ.

මෙවන් පසුබිමක අප්‍රේල් මාසය අවසන් වන විට දිවයිනට වර්ෂාව නොලැබුණහොත් පවතින විදුලි අර්බුදය තවත් උග්‍ර විය හැකි බව ලංකා විදුලි බල මණ්ඩලයේ ඉන්ජිනේරු සංගමය පෙන්වා දෙයි.

[Ada Derana] විදුලිය කප්පාදු කරන්නේ වියලි කාළගුණය නිසා නෙමෙයි

විදුලිය කප්පාදු කිරීමට සිදුව ඇත්තේ වියලි කාළගුණික තත්ත්වය හෝ නොරොච්චෝලේ බලාගාරය බිඳවැටිම නිසා නොවන බව බලශක්ති විශේෂඥ ආචාර්යය තිලක් සියඹලාපිටිය මහතා  පවසයි.

ඔහු පෙන්වා දෙන්නේ 2015 වසරෙන් පසු යෝජිත නව විදුලි ජනන ක්‍රියාවලි හා නව විදුලි බලාගාර ඉදිනොකිරීම විදුලි හිඟය නිර්මාණය වීමට හේතු වී ඇති බවයි.

බලශක්ති විශේෂඥ ආචාර්යය තිලක් සියඹලාපිටිය මහතා ප්‍රකාශ කළේ බලශක්තිය නිපදවීම සඳහා බලාගාර ඉදිකිරීම් ප්‍රමාද විමට ද වාණිජමය හේතු බලපා ඇති බවයි.

මේ අතර විදුලි බලය බිඳ වැටීම හේත්වෙන් රටේ ආර්ථිකයට බරපතල තර්ජනයක් එල්ල වන බව ජනතා විමුක්ති පෙරමුණේ පාර්මේන්තු මන්ත්‍රි සුනිල් හදුන්නෙත්ති මහතා ප්‍රකාශ කළේය.

[ECONOMYNEXT] Sri Lanka imposes power cuts after delaying thermal plant

 Sri Lanka has started cutting power after failing to award a contract to build a 300 MegaWatt power plant for over three years amid corruption allegations and also cancelling coal plant that was about to be built, making a reality of warnings given by analysts, engineers at the state-run power utility and industry analysts.

State-run Ceylon Electricity Board said up to four hours of power cuts will be imposed on consumers in all parts of the island with one hour in the day time and the rest in the day time. (link to load shedding times)

Three years ago CEB’s engineers union, industry analysts and the power regulator had warned that power cuts were likely in 2018 as the government failed to award a 300 MW thermal power plant to a private firm which was to tide over the country until the coal plant came on line.

But there were no power cuts in 2018 amid better rainfall and slower demand growth.

“We can expect a government announcement by 2018, when indications of the crisis become apparent – typically (during the hot months from) February to April,” power sector analysts Tilka Siyambalapitiya said in 2016 shortly after President Maithripala Sirisena cancelled a coal power plant which was about to be built. (Sri Lanka faces power shortage with coal plant delay)

“The government will say ‘we will pay the bill for diesel and customers would not be burdened’. There will be load shedding (power cuts).”

The government also failed to award a stop gap 300 MegaWatt thermal plant for around three years amid allegations of corruption.

CEB’s engineers union had also warned that the scrapping of the coal plant will push up power costs and if the tariffs are not raised taxes charged from other goods will be used to cover losses in power.

“If the CEB makes losses, the costs will eventually have to be recovered from the public with taxes on food or value added tax,” (Sri Lanka consumers warned on impending ‘electric shock’ after coal plant scrapping).

then CEB engineers union chief Athula Wanniarachchi said.

In 2018 the CEB lost 25 billion rupees and losses could worsen in 2019.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka has also given similar warnings.

“PUCSL envisages an energy shortage in years 2018/ 2019 unless the plants identified in the approved plan relevant to the period are implemented on time, the regulator said in 2016. (Sri Lanka regulator stresses urgency of new power plants to ward off shortage.)

“The real challenge is to get these plants implemented,” PUCSL director general Damitha Director General Damitha Kumarasinghe told a news conference in 2016.  

“We have only one and a half to two years. We’re looking at very quick implementation.”

There was also a tug-o-war between the regulator and the CEB after amid allegations that data in a power plan was mis-represented to show that long term costs of coal was higher than liquefied natural gas.

The regulator is to take legal action against the CEB for cuting power secretly without getting permission from the regulator, Sri Lanka’s Daily FT newspaper reported.

In Sri Lanka power supply is a state monopoly and the people themselves cannot set up a power plant and even sell to a neighbor, which generates shortages. 

Power cuts are commonplace all over South Asia except in Mumbai, India where electricity is provided by Tata, a private firm, which escaped expropriation by then Prime Minister Nehru.  (Colombo/Mar26/2019)

The regulator is to take legal action against the CEB for cuting power secretly without getting permission from the regulator, Sri Lanka’s Daily FT newspaper reported.

In Sri Lanka power supply is a state monopoly and the people themselves cannot set up a power plant and even sell to a neighbor, which generates shortages. 

Power cuts are commonplace all over South Asia except in Mumbai, India where electricity is provided by Tata, a private firm, which escaped expropriation by then Prime Minister Nehru.  (Colombo/Mar26/2019)

[The Island] Electricity generation moving as planned by saboteurs


BY Dr Tilak Siyambalapitiya

There is only one “decision” on which the current President and the Prime Minister agreed with each other wholeheartedly: that is to cancel the Sampur power plant, in 2016. It was a decision to kill, and not to develop, the electricity sector. Even a decision to kill a project would have been compensated, at least partially, if the duo swiftly commenced a systematic approach to build a gas import terminal and gas-fired power plant, but that was not to be.

On 15th May 2016, a state-owned newspaper “proudly” announced: “Sampur shelved: Coal plant off the table” and continued to say, “The CEM has arrived at several decisions which include negotiating the need for a coal power plant (sic) and replacing it with a cleaner model like LNG”. “They have also decided to suspend all activities including tenders that have already been called.”

Given the several technical inaccuracies in the above statement, it could not have been drafted by a person with any knowledge of engineering, but by a politician, but it achieved its objective. The Deputy Minister of Power, who only a few months ago had been specially assigned through a special gazette notification, the task of getting the Sampur power plant project going, was in tears, as he later said.

The aforesaid statement would have brought immense joy to many: (a) the decision-makers of Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CEM), (b) the anti-coal lobby, (c) contractors-in-waiting, to supply diesel power plants.

The confused public who do not know the actual motive of the cancellation would also have been pleased since the only coal-fired power plant in the country was undergoing numerous outages, generating bad publicity. So why have another one, the common man may argue, happy that another one will not be built. Moreover, residents of Sampur would have rejoiced that the environment had been saved. The President and the Prime Minister seem to know a lot more than engineers, economists and scientists, to have special meetings and decide themselves, about power plants. Just imagine how concerned they are about the country, her people and the electricity supply!

We have seen and heard similar statements, precisely when the same individuals were at the helm, not at the Power Ministry but on various dubious “committees” of the government:

1992: “HE the President advised me to instruct CEB to refrain from proceeding with the Mawella coal-fired power plant”, said the Secretary to the President, in a letter to CEB. A committee called the “Power Committee” was sitting at that time, chaired by the Secretary to the Treasury. So, the President decides, not the engineers.

2002: “The Prime Minister called the Japanese Ambassador to his residence and said that the CEB has misled both the previous government and the present government. The Prime Minister has informed the Japanese Ambassador that the government has decided to cancel the Norochcholai coal power plant.” This time the committee behind it was called the “Energy Supply Committee”. So the PM decides, not the engineers.

2016: Precisely by the same individuals as in 1992 and 2002 who sat in various dubious committees outside the Ministry of Power and Energy, dictate to the Ministry on how to run the electricity supply system. And each time they failed the country miserably. This time the committee was called the “Cabinet Committee on Economic Management”.

So, after the decision, in 2016, which brought tears to the Deputy Minister of Power, following the “tradition”, the Prime Minister appointed yet another a “committee” and all its members, except one, had no experience, at all, in the subject of electrical power systems, and the committee report came out precisely as expected “build gas power plants; bury Sampur”. What else can you expect of a committee appointed after the decision is made?

Although the “bond committee” report was challenged, this committee’s recommendations went unchallenged. With little knowledge of the media on matters that are electric, the committee report was not even published widely.

To add insult to injury, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management has since been abolished by the President. Now there is another committee: “National Economic Council”. So now, who is responsible for the mess created by CEM in the power sector?

Who killed the power sector?

So, who killed the electricity supply industry? The President says that he did not. The CEM or the inner Cabinet or what remains of it says it does not exist; the Ministry of Energy says CEM did it, the CEB says we did not do it. The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) says that the killing power plants was “government policy” but the President says he did not say so, and it was “not government policy”.

So, the electricity generation is moving in the direction the saboteurs wanted it to. The retired oil power plants are been reived; companies are writing reports on how one oil power plant is more expensive than the other; the PUCSL is not approving contracts as regards oil power plants; there are accusations and counter accusations against oil power plants; in the end,

it is oil and more oil; more oil power plants have to be purchased on an emergency basis to avoid continuing blackouts in view of elections to be held towards the year end; such emergency procurements will be approved by Cabinet and the PUCSL instantly, without batting an eye lid.

Mark my word; there will be a lot of “emergency power” in 2019 and in 2020.

Procuring emergency power is also very good—not for the electricity customer or the taxpayer but the decision-maker.

Are we really building a gas terminal?

Natural gas prices declined since 2013. A feasibility study was concluded, in 2014, and gas power plants entered the planning cycle and subsequently the national long-term generation plan in 2017. The government began “negotiating” with various parties to build gas terminals and gas power plants whereas the Electricity Act says power generation has to be procured on a competitive basis. News items such as the following appeared during the 2015-2018 period:

BOI Chairman: “We have received six proposals for gas terminals and negotiating with all of them”.

CEM: We are negotiating to form a joint venture between India, Japan and Sri Lanka.

President: I have received a proposal from a Korean Company to build a gas terminal; here it is. It will be a take-or-pay contract.

China: We will build a gas terminal in Hambantota

So, the number of gas terminals being contemplated by various arms and individuals of the government is nine, but none has reached the construction phase. All proposals and their hidden sponsors within various government committees try to evade the competitive bidding process. The spoils too attractive to shared. So, bury the National Procurement Commission, procurement policies and the Electricity Act!

The large Indian market so far has only four gas terminals; three of them hardly used, owing to the higher costs of gas compared with coal and renewables. Politicians at all levels in tiny Sri Lanka are toying with nine gas terminal proposals! This game will become more aggressive in the run-up to elections, for obvious reasons.

All these games are played while the country is paying for oil to run power plants. More are on the way. The share of electricity produced from oil reached a 20-year low of 18%, in 2015, and now it has risen back to 34% by 2017, and will surely exceed 50% by 2020.

In 2020, the Central Bank will write in its annual report: “Bad weather has caused more oil to be used for power generation!” Will they dare say “the cancellation of Sampur and not building a gas terminal was the reason”?

Kill an ongoing project, then call friends and ask for proposals for gas plants and confuse all the dubious proponents by accepting all nine proposals whereas the need is for just one. All this, they do, knowing very well that procurement has to be through competitive bidding, as stated in the law.

Since the planned power plants are not allowed to be constructed with government’s meddling with the next best solution to build a gas import terminal, by year 2020, the additional oil consumption for power generation would be, at least, 400 million litres. At today’s costs, it will be at least Rs 32,000 million. This cost will be passed on to electricity customers, not only in 2020, but year after year.

Did someone say the Central Bank bond issue (the scam) was the biggest financial irregularity in the country’s history? Isn’t Rs 32,000 million lost to the country year after year bigger than Rs 11,000 million, which is said to be the loss due bond scams?

When will a Presidential commission to probe meddling with power plant projects be appointed? The Commission can begin work with the 15th May 2016 decision of the CEM, as the first piece of evidence.

Swiss Challenge

Numerous newspaper articles claimed that the real reasons for the October 26th fallout between the two individuals sharing power was the gas terminal contract. Since we are not privy to what goes on in the inner rooms of the Presidential Secretariat or the Temple Trees, it is hard to say yes or no. However, within days of the October 26th fallout, an official newspaper advertisements appeared requesting alternative proposals for the gas terminal, to be submitted within five weeks. The advertisements, obviously published by the arm of government that remained in power, tell us all about it.

The advertisements literally said that we (meaning the surviving arm of the government) had got a proposal for an LNG terminal, and anyone could match that could send counter proposals within five weeks. The terminal is at least a 300-million-dollar investment; and what is more; against all advice and protests from almost all who know the energy industry, the President was asking for proposals to match the take-or-pay contract offered to him by a Korean Company. The total value of the contract would have been 5,000-million-dollars, if the deal went through, when there was no government!

Surely, no company of repute would even attempt to send a counter proposal to finance and build a 300-million-dollar asset in five weeks! Even a building contractor takes two weeks to send his pricing to build a 10-million-rupee house! Here, we have a government which has received a proposal from an interested party, which was not solicited (meaning there was no tender process in the first place) now trying to rush the proposal through by inviting counter proposals in five weeks so that there will be no counter proposals. Respectable companies with worldwide experience in building gas terminals must be laughing at the Sri Lankan way of handling multi-million dollar projects.

And the end result? There will be no gas terminal, someone in the Cabinet will shoot it down, because the procedures were not followed.

So, that’s how our President and Prime Minister agreed on the cancellation of the Sampur power plant and disagreed on the gas terminal. The government will go down in the history as the administration that cancelled all power plants and did not build a single power one.

In fact, it is not the government that decides which power plants to build and where. Such decisions in other countries are made by technocrats. The government ensures that laws are made and adhered to. Here, such decisions are made by all-knowing politicians, and the result is obvious.

The on-going blackouts are only the beginning. The power generating system is planned to meet customer demand even when hydropower is low and when a large generator is out of order. But when politicians do not allow the construction of new power plants, and tinker with plans and projects, then crises are to be expected when the rainfall gets low and a power plant goes out of order.

Then, the weather or the power plant can be blamed for the blackouts!

The game (of meddling with power plant projects) is the same, and this time around, the players are the same as in 1992, 1997, 2002, and the result: more blackouts, higher costs and a nation eternally in a power crisis!

[REUTERS] Sri Lanka’s drought, failure to raise power capacity force nationwide power cuts

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s state-run power firm has imposed daily power cuts for the first time in more than two years as a drought has slashed hydro-power output, highlighting the government’s failure to build new power plants, officials said on Monday.

The drought has cut the hydro-power generation in half to 15 percent of the nation’s total electricity production as the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) seeks to save water for household and irrigation requirements, the firm said.

That has resulted in a four-hour rolling power cut on weekdays, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. (0300-1630 GMT), that began without notice on Friday and was then announced on a scheduled basis for Monday. The four-hour daily cuts hit different places at different times.

If the power cuts are extended for any length of time they could hurt Sri Lanka’s already weak economy. Its GDP growth slowed to just 3.2 percent in 2018, the lowest in 17 years.

Sri Lanka’s peak demand is 2,400 MW and the country is generating 1,950 MW at the moment, CEB officials said.

“We have to impose power cuts to bridge the shortage,” Saumya Kumarawadu, head of the CEB Engineers Union, told Reuters. “The main reason for the power cut is the government’s failure in implementing the planned power plants,” he added.

Officials from the Power and Energy Ministry were not immediately available for comment on the power cuts.

Health Ministry officials said key hospitals in the country had emergency power backup.

In an indication of how severe the situation has become, a Power and Energy Ministry official said the government had on Friday started trying to produce artificial rain with the help of Thailand’s Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation – so far only a pilot project.

The power cuts come after delays in power plant projects.

In 2016, the government canceled a 500 MW coal power plant through a joint venture between CEB and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation in the eastern port district of Trincomalee, citing environmental pollution. That coal power plant was originally due to start producing later this year.

A 300 MW liquefied natural gas plant (LNG), which was to be started in January this year, has been held up for more than two years due to a court battle between local firm Lakdhanavi and a joint venture between China’s GCL and a Sri Lankan firm.

Lakdhanavi had filed a legal case against the Power and Energy Ministry in 2017 for awarding the LNG tender to the joint venture for $307 million against its bid of $175 million.

Sri Lanka has total electricity generating capacity of 40 GWH, as it mainly relies on thermal power, including a Chinese built coal power plant, which account for 45 percent of its supply.

Additional reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Edited by Martin Howell and Alison Williams