By Sandun A. Jayasekera
While maintaining that the CEB cannot inform about emergency power cuts in advance, Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka today assured that there would be no power cuts in the future as the CEB possessed the capacity to cater to the country’s entire demand for electricity.
Minister Ranawaka told the media that power failures experienced in the past few weeks came as a result of technical faults of the thermal power plants that had to be run over time to meet the demand for power as the hydro power stations could not be run to their full capacity due to the drying up of reservoirs.
“However, we are sorry about the power cuts. Now that the CEB can meet the demand for power we will inform in advance if there is any power cut,” Minister Ranawaka said.
The north –east monsoon brought a satisfactory rainfall in the first three months of this year that helped to fill many of the reservoirs to brim or to overflow them. But since then there was ample rain and the South–East monsoon did not materialize. The month of June was completely dry worsening the situation.
The reservoirs were dried up to the bottom and at present the hydro power generation has reduced to about 5 million GW hours while the demand is about 25 million GW hours a day. To meet the demand the CEB has to purchase power from private power suppliers paying a minimum Rs. 19 per thermal power unit. The CEB sells a unit at Rs. 13.00 absorbing a loss of Rs. 6.00 per unit.
Another major set-back for the CEB was the technical failures at the ‘Lakdanavi’ power plant at Kerawalapitiya and ‘Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant’ at Norochcholai. The combined installed capacity of the two power plants was 555 MWs. If the two power plants were able to generate to its full capacity there would not have been a power crisis.
However, the two power plants are now running and generating power. Therefore, the CEB is confident that there would be no power cuts other than those due to technical failures at power plants that can be informed in advance.
The minister accepted that the government insisted to China to finish the job at ‘Lakdanavi’ before the scheduled January 2012 deadline and test runs had failed.
He lamented that the estimated loss of Rs. 16 billion would go up as the CEB has to purchase thermal power at higher prices to meet the demand as hydro power generation had come down to one third of the of the demand. Minister Ranawaka is confident that the CEB is capable of providing the full capacity of 25 million MW hours per day even in an event of the hydro power generation comes to a standstill due to the drought.