News

Explain Monday’s power outages: Ceylon Electricity Board Joint Trade Union Alliance

  • CEB unions tell Power Minister to clarify
  • Ministry commences probe

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Ceylon Electricity Board Joint Trade Union Alliance (CEBJTUA) has stated that Minister of Power Gamini Lokuge and the Government should make a statement regarding the power outages that occurred in several parts of the country on Monday (29 November).

The power supply to many parts of the island was disrupted from 7.35 p.m. on Monday for nearly one-and-a-half hours due to a breakdown in the 220 kilowatt (KW) transmission line from Upper Kotmale to Biyagama. Accordingly, the grid substations in Pannipitiya, Ratmalana, Sri Jayewardenepura, Athurugiriya, and Kosgama in the Colombo District had shut down. In addition, the grid substations in Sapugaskanda, Biyagama, Kurunegala, Kiribathkumbura, Peradeniya, Kandy, Gampola, Kotugoda, Habarana, Galle, and Matara had also shut down.

Speaking to Derana TV, CEBJTUA Convener Ranjan Jayalal said that Lokuge and the Government should make a statement regarding the power outages.

Commenting on this, Ministry of Power Spokesman Sulakshana Jayawardena yesterday (30 November) told the media that an investigation is currently underway into the power outages.

Meanwhile, Jayalal warned that the current shortage of coal in the country and the closure of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery, which supplied about 20% of its furnace oil production to the CEB, could lead to a shortage of electricity in the future.

“As we know, the country’s coal stocks will only be sufficient until January 2022. At present, about 50% of the total electricity demand is generated through hydropower, but now the rainfall has gradually reduced,” he said.

Jayalal further stated that the closure of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery will also have a major impact on the electricity generation. Given these reasons, he claimed that there is a possibility of a power shortage in the future.

However, Ministry of Energy Secretary K.D.R. Olga last week told The Morning that by-products such as furnace oil and chemical naphtha were also manufactured at the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery, adding that the halt in the production process would not have a major impact on such products. She said that due to the recent rains, the power plants are not purchasing furnace oil at present. She added that due to this, a significant stock of furnace oil has been accumulated and that therefore, the closure of the said oil refinery does not have a major impact on the furnace oil production.