The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) today appealed to its nearly five million consumers not to panic when they receive the monthly electricity bill this month based on the previous tariff despite President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s announcement of a 25% tariff reduction with immediate effect.
CEB Chairman W.B. Ganegala told Daily Mirror that the CEB, Treasury and the Public Utilities Commission are already in the process of working out the tariff structure under the new system and that it would take a few weeks for it to be completed and meter readers begin issuing the monthly electricity bill under the reduced tariff.
“We have to print the new tariff structure and give it to the meter readers to calculate the new tariffs. It will take a few more weeks and consumers must bear with us until then. If consumers had been overcharged this month, the excess amount will be deducted from next month’s bill based on the 25% reduction of the tariff which will be effective from Wednesday,” he said. “The CEB had earned a profit of Rs.22 billion last year after the repeated losses incurred in the past. The CEB now pays fuel bills on time to the CPC and very soon we will pass some relief to the consumer.”
Mr. Ganegala said 900 MWs – 50% of the daily power requirement --being generated by the Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant (LCPP) at a unit cost of Rs.8.50 had made it possible to provide relief to the consumers.
He said it would have been more advantageous if there was enough rain to fill the reservoirs because the unit cost of hydro power generation was Rs.3.70 but the CEB had to pay Rs.35 to Rs.60 for a unit of thermal power generation bought from private power suppliers.
The CEB incurs huge losses by giving subsidies to nearly three million households or more than half of the total population which use less than 60 units a month. For instance, the CEB sells a unit of power at Rs.3.34 to consumers using less than 30 units a month while the average cost of power generation is Rs.22.94. Those using less than 60 units a month are charged Rs.6.89 for a unit. The CEB incurs a total loss of more than Rs.28 billion a year.
Mr. Ganegala said the CEB also incurs a loss of Rs.520 million a year by supplying electricity to places of religious worship. (Sandun A Jayasekera)