By Sandun A Jayasekera
The Ceylon Electricity Board(CEB) has gained a huge financial benefit due to the low energy consumption during the shutdown and the current increase in the generation capacity of hydroelectricity, Power, Energy and Transport Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said yesterday.
In addition to this bonanza, the CEB has also saved another Rs. 200 billion by canceling the plan to purchase 128 MWs from the private sector at a cost of Rs. 200 billion for six months, he noted. The CEB sometimes purchases power from the private sector by paying as much as Rs. 65 per unit at times of a power crisis.
“The ongoing curfew and the stoppage of work in the public and private sector in the aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic has contributed to a drop in the demand for electricity sharply during the last couple of months in the country. The heavy rains brought about by cyclone ‘Samphan’ has filled reservoirs enabling the CEB to increase its hydro power generation capacity to about 37% of the total power generation as opposed to less than 20% in early 2020. This is like winning a big jackpot in a lottery for the CEB, Minister Amaraweera said.
Minister Amaraweera said all these bonanzas which occurred domestically were in addition to the big profit collected by the CPC arising from the sharp drop of fuel prices in the global market since the outbreak of the viral infection
The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC ) had an accumulated outstanding balance of Rs. 82 billion due from state establishments such as the CEB, SLR, SLTB and Armed forces at the beginning of 2020. With the drop of fuel prices in the global market, the CPC had decided to waive off about 50% of the total debts from these establishments giving them a substantial relief, Minister Amaraweera added.
The cabinet in February granted approval to purchase 200 MWs of power from the private sector to face the impending power crisis as the hydro power generation had dropped to less than 20% of the total capacity following the protracted drought situation.
However by yesterday the water level of several main reservoirs had increased to satisfactory levels. For instance, Castlereagh - 61%, Maussakele – 48%, Kotmale – 55%, Victoria 56%, Randenigala – 55% and Samanalawewa 66%.
The Upper Kotmale and Laxapana reservoirs were observed to be at spill level yesterday.
Minister Amaraweera said all these bonanzas which occurred domestically were in addition to the big profit collected by the CPC arising from the sharp drop of fuel prices in the global market since the outbreak of the viral infection.
The increase of hydro power generation has also contributed to the CPC’s decision to close down its costly thermal power plants reducing the thermal power generation to 20% from 65% in early 2020, Minister Amaraweera noted.
In addition, the government has also created a ‘Fuel Adjustment Fund’ of Rs. 200 billion diverting the extra income collected from cheap fuel imports.