The Sunday Leader

CEB In A Quandary

  • As Lack of Electricity by 2020 looming over the country

By Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) would lose more than USD 135 million if they continued the work of Sampur Coal Fired Power Station, as they would not be in a position to start its commercial operations before 2020.

The additional cost for carrying out the project was estimated by the CEB Transmission and Generation Planning Branch and had spelled out to the CEB Board of Management.

Considering the probable power shortage after 2017 in the country, the Board was keen in the long term power generation plan, and they were to add power to the national grid through the 500MW Sampur plant at the end of 2017.

Senior engineers from the Trincomalee Power Company Limited (TPCL), and the sources from the CEB told The Sunday Leader that they won’t be in a position to kick start the project as planned due to financial barricades.

A TPCL official said both parties (CEB and NTPC) should be blamed for their lackadaisical attitude.

He said that with the ongoing resettlement in the area, related problems would be further aggravated. Citing examples he said, resettlement is in the corridor where coal transportation is going to be taking place which he termed would be a major problem.

He also said that following recommendations of the Central Environment Authority (CEA) after the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), all recommendations were submitted in June.

“After three months, the CEA comes out stating that two other specifications should be looked into. This time the letter was not from the CEA Director General, but from another division of the CEA. The DG during the last discussions in June agreed that we should go ahead without further delay. Legally they should have responded within 30 days, not after three months,” the official said.

However, he added that they had submitted their response for the latest queries as well.

The officials said if conditions are going to be scrapped to cut short the timeframe against the usual procedure, then the CEB should bear consequences.

Meanwhile, Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) President Athula Wanniarachchi told The Sunday Leader the Indian government was influencing the Sri Lankan government continuously in last five to six years to accept unfavorable conditions in their agreements.

He said NTPC is pushing for low efficiency Indian machinery which may be lower than Chinese technology (compared to Norochcholai). From 1990, the CEBEU pushed for European or Japanese technology. It may be bit expensive initially, but it would benefit the country in the long run.

”We assume the NTPC is purposely delaying the implementation of the Sampur power plant until the CEB face a serious panic situation with a huge deficit of power, in which we have but to agree with any unfavorable conditions imposed by the NTPC”.

The union sources strongly believe that it is a strategic mistake to start a joint power plant with an Indian company. None of the countries in the subcontinent like Nepal, and Bangladesh have gained anything from the energy business with Indian companies.

CEBEU Chief also said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (or Japanese government) is willing to give a loan for a better plant, but unfortunately, the Sri Lanka government has not yet given a suitable land for the project.

He also said the CEBEU expects to educate and help the new government on this issue.

The TPCL is a joint venture company  – 50 per cent by the CEB and 50 per cent by the NTPC.

The TPCL is responsible for implementing and operating the proposed 250MWx2 coal power plant complex in Sampur. The estimated cost of the project is USD 512 million.

It will comprise two 250MW generators, the power of which will be transmitted to the national grid through high voltage transmission lines from Sampur via Habarana to the Veyangoda Grid Substation.

 

2 Comments for “CEB In A Quandary”

  1. Kamal Gamage

    Please ask the government to start a rebate scheme to fix a solar panel in every ones roof.

    Even here in UK where sun set is scares encourage people to fix solar panels and give grants to increase total generation capacity.

    May be Sri Lanka you cant do it with powerful POWER MUDALALIS affiliated to both parties. Sorry, affiliated to National Government.

    • Gamma

      Even in Australia they promote public to install solar panels on their roofs and government gives certain rebates for the customers. If such rich countries are depending on solar power why not a poor nation like us go for solar energy. I have seen many people have installed solar panels for heating the water. But why cannot the public install solar panels to subscribe to Electricity Board during the day time and get paid something more so that we can cut down our foreign money that go out for gas and coal. Then like in China we can have mini hydro generators at every irrigation tank and use that energy when water is released.

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