News

Power supply interruptions imminent 

 

  • CEB TU Alliance to protest islandwide tomorrow 
  • Refuses to take responsibility for any power breakdowns 

 

BY Pamodi Waravita and Dinitha Rathnayake 

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Trade Union Alliance claimed that electricity power supply interruptions are imminent owing to the limited stocks of coal available with the Government to power its coal-powered power stations.

The alliance will be engaging in an islandwide protest tomorrow (3), its Convenor Ranjan Jayalal told The Morning yesterday (1).

“We will be holding an islandwide protest tomorrow where all staff will be coming to Colombo to hand over a petition to the relevant authorities. We will not be responsible for any involuntary breakdowns that occur in the electricity grid at that time,” said Jayalal. 

He added that the alliance will also eventually engage in trade union strike action if the Government fails to suspend the sale of 40% of shares held by the Government of Sri Lanka in the Yugadanavi liquefied natural gas (LNG) Power Plant to US-based energy company New Fortress Energy Inc. 

He further accused the Government, including Power Minister Gamini Lokuge, of failing to provide them with a meeting for a discussion on the aforementioned matter, adding, however, that Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and National People’s Power Leader and Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake have listened to their concerns.

He further claimed that the Government has a limited resource of coal at the moment for its coal-powered power stations and that as such, interruptions to the supply of electricity are imminent.

The People’s Alliance, led by Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, and Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, held a press conference on 29 October, where they heavily criticised the agreement that the Government signed with New Fortress Energy Inc. Gammanpila and Weerawansa accused the agreement of being corrupt and said that it was signed in secrecy, without proper approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

In response to their allegations, speaking at a media interview yesterday, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary and MP Sagara Kariyawasam said that some relevant action needs to be taken against the aforementioned Cabinet Ministers if they cannot get in line with the Government’s decisions. “These Ministers enjoy all privileges afforded to Cabinet Ministers and yet criticise the Government,” said Kariyawasam. 

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal against the agreement last week, whilst the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera, and the Federation of National Organisations filed fundamental rights (FR) petitions at the Supreme Court regarding the matter.

New Fortress Energy Inc. said that it has signed a framework agreement with the Government to construct a new offshore LNG receiving, storage, and re-gasification terminal, primarily located in the Kerawalapitiya Power Complex, to supply gas to Sri Lanka’s power plants. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) announced on 26 October that the Government is set to receive a $ 250 million inflow from the partial divestment of the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy Inc. and that the first tranche of the same is expected in November and December 2021.

However, allegations levelled against the deal claim that the long-term loss to Sri Lanka through the deal is around $ 6 billion and cite threats to the country’s energy security.