CEB given approval to negotiate with pvt. power plants based on cabinet conditions
PUCSL urges electricity users to be careful with use during peak hours
By Pamodi WaravitaThe Power Ministry told The Morning yesterday (9) that the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) has given initial approval for the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to proceed with negotiations with private power plants for the purchase of emergency power, as long as they are within the conditions stipulated by the Cabinet of Ministers, last week. “The CEB is working on procuring emergency power only when needed. The Cabinet has stressed that there should be no payments done when power is not obtained from the private power plants. The PUCSL has given initial permission to go ahead with the negotiations, but ultimately we will get permission from the PUCSL before finalising anything,” official sources at the Power Ministry told The Morning yesterday. A cabinet paper presented by Power Minister Gamini Lokuge was turned down by the Cabinet last week. It sought approval to purchase emergency power from two private power plants (100 megawatts [MW] from one Ace Power Plant, and 20 MW from another Ace Power Plant) – and for the agreements to be signed for a period of three years. Lokuge had earlier alleged that “certain parties” wanted the Government to sign private power purchasing agreements, in order to acquire power at a higher cost.Sri Lanka has been in the midst of a power shortfall since the beginning of the year, propagated by the breakdown of Unit Three of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant, declining water reserves for the generation of electricity through hydropower and the shortage of fuel in the country due to the US dollar (USD) crisis. The 300 MW of the Norochcholai Power Plant’s Unit Three were added to the national power grid on 31 January, following over a month of not conducting its operations. It faced a breakdown during the first week of December 2021, leading the CEB to rely on its hydropower reserves and expensive furnace and diesel stocks to run fuel-powered power plants. Following this, Sri Lanka has been grappling with a fuel crisis, amidst the ongoing foreign reserves crisis. It faced another breakdown on 1 February, following which power cuts were reported across the island. However, it was restored to the national grid the following day, on 2 February, thus providing some relief to the CEB. The PUCSL stressed yesterday that there would be no need for load shedding, as they were confident that the CEB could meet the demand for electricity. However, it also requested that users be careful with electricity usage between the peak hours of 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.