News

CEB back to mini- hydropower: 38 agreements to be extended

No decision on diesel plants

BY MAHEESHA MUDUGAMUWA

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is shifting back to mini-hydropower by extending a total of 38 agreements shortly in a bid to face an upcoming power shortage, also saying that a decision on diesel power plant agreements had not yet been made, The Sunday Morning learnt.

The extensions of the agreements have been delayed for nearly four-and-a-half years due to various reasons and the CEB, by extending the mini-hydropower agreements, is expected to add 75 MW to the national grid.

In addition, the Board is also expected to add a total of 220 MW of hydropower and 30 MW of wind power to the national grid this year with the completion of the Broadlands and Uma Oya Hydropower Project as well as the Mannar Island Wind Farm within this year. Speaking to The Sunday Morning, CEB Chairman Eng. Vijitha Herath said the CEB was trying to minimise the chances of extending expensive diesel power plant agreements which will come to an end next year.

“The agreements will be ended next year and before that, the CEB expects to add maximum capacity through renewable energy as well as cheap hydropower,” he said.

When asked whether the CEB would extend the diesel power plant agreements next year, the CEB Chairman stressed that it would only consider it if the necessity arises, and added: “As of now, the CEB has not taken any decision to extend the diesel power agreements.”

Accordingly, the Government has decided to purchase 128 MW power immediately.

Meanwhile, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) last year alleged that the CEB said that emergency power purchase had been done since 2010 and that the CEB had incurred a loss of Rs. 70, 000 million only during 2017 and 2018 due to emergency power purchases, as revealed by the COPE report.

The COPE said the Treasury had provided a loan of Rs. 29 billion to the CEB during that period and most of those funds had been used for emergency power purchases.

On several occasions, the COPE has also questioned the agreements made between the CEB and the private power companies while purchasing emergency power. In the meantime, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka

(PUCSL) over the past few years canvassed against the purchasing of emergency power, claiming it should only be limited to calamitous situations with the approval of the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, PUCSL Director of Corporate Communications Jayant Herat stressed that the CEB could not extend diesel power agreements under Section 43 of Sri Lanka Electricity Act.
“The PUCSL did not grant approval for the extension made in 2018,” Herat added.