A Costly Breakdown
The Lakwijaya Coal Power plant in Norochcholai has been shut down for six days so far this year, costing the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) a colossal Rs 432 million to purchase power from thermal sources in order to bridge the shortfall due to the closure. For every day that the coal power plant is shut down, the CEB has to spend Rs 72 million to purchase power from thermal power plants.
Furthermore each start up alone costs Rs 26 million further adding to the losses, and within the past 24 days the CEB has incurred a loss of Rs 104 million during the four start ups, due to the plant having been shut down four times during this period.
The Sunday Leader reliably learns that during the first six months of last year the Norochcholai coal power plant had been closed for 32 days, while during the second half of last year, it had been closed for periods of between 90 to 100 days. This year too as of last Friday the plant had been inoperative for six days.
The plant commenced generation around 3.45 a.m. on Friday but according to reliable sources, due to a leak in the boiler, the plant had to be shut down once again. The mechanical engineers charge that ever since the Ministry of Power and Energy removed the former General Manager, the plant has suffered continuous breakdowns under the control of the electrical engineers.
However, when questioned as to the reason for the removal of Mr Panditharatne (the former mechanical engineer), the CEB spokesman/ DGM Business and Operational Strategy Senajith Dassanayake said that he had to be removed because he was undermining the credibility of the senior engineers by bypassing them and attending to issues of the minor staff himself.
However, the mechanical engineers claim that this move was made in a bid to prove that this plant cannot be operated by the local engineers and it was a crafty move to hand over the plant to the Chinese.
When contacted by The Sunday Leader, the CEB Additional General Manager, M. C. Wickremasekera said that while the plant commenced operations on Friday morning, they had detected a leak from the repaired condenser and since the load was lesser during the weekend, they had decided to shut down the plant to investigate the problem and conduct the repairs.