Champika To Withdraw 100 Mw Stand-By Power?
- Huge Row Breaks out between Minister and CEB Board
- CEB Performance Blamed By Minister
- Blame game starts – Citizens Still Left with no choice
By Faraz Shauketaly
Following on our spotlight last week when it was revealed that the Ceylon Electricity Board had called for tenders to purchase 100 Mw of stand-by / Emergency / Supplementary power for 2012 at a huge cost of Rs. 13 Billion (13,000,000,000) Sri Lanka’s Minister of Power and Energy Champika Ranawaka has written to the Ministry Secretary questioning the need for expensive stand-by power of 100 Mw. Champika Ranawaka was under no illusions: he slated the mismanagement of the CEB managed power plants. In a striking example of how Ministers may pull rank, the Minister has openly asked the CEB whether the so-called envisaged crisis is one due to unavoidable circumstances or a crisis by design.
Champika Ranawaka points out that in 2011 the CEB made a loss of Rs. 13 Billion – much the same amount that the Minister with his team at the CEB Board considered spending on emergency power for 2012 due to predicted lower rainfall figures, reliability issues with CEB managed power plants and scheduled outages in Kukule, New Lakshapana and GT7 power plants.
Instead Sri Lanka’s Power Minister wants the Ceylon Electricity Board to concentrate on managing the power plants owned by them. Taking a cue perhaps from what has been questioned of the Minister by The Sunday Leader in the past, as to why penalty clauses are not being invoked and relied upon, the Minister has openly asked “those responsible should pay for the unserved energy”. Tongue-in-cheek the Minister goes on to say, “perhaps there is no need to hire additional power if it is possible to claim from the relevant officials for the unserved energy and use that money to purchase power.”
The Minister as an engineer himself, has his own suggestion: he has suggested that the CEB, LECO and SEA should initiate an aggressive conservation campaign to save 100 Mw of thermal power in peak hours, between 6:30 and 9:30 pm instead of hiring the supplementary 100 Mw of thermal power. However, the Minister has not addressed the issue raised in The Sunday Leader last week, of the CEB purchasing a 100 Mw power plant in any combination to be used as and when required – a measure likelyto save the consumer (eventually) at least Rs. 70 Million.
Quite apart from the Minister of Power and Energy taking to task the CEB and blaming them for the massive financial and technical mismanagement, the Minister has not given any comfort to the citizens of this country who continue to pay substantial sums of monies on their electricity bills. Last week we showed that 319 units of power consumed in South India would be at least 5 times cheaper than in Sri Lanka. Lower power bills in Sri Lanka therefore remain as elusive as peace was for thirty years.