The very public spat between the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the regulator, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), over the power crisis has drawn the ire of President Maithripala Sirisena himself.
RepublicNext learns that Sirisena has on at least two separate occasions strongly criticised the PUCSL for its stance, the latest being at a Cabinet meeting held yesterday (2 April) where he had remarked on the need for the two state bodies to resolve their differences. Earlier this week, the PUCSL had announced its decision to take legal action against the CEB.
Despite repeated complaints, however, it appears that the Commission is sticking to its guns.
PUCSL Corporate Communications Director Jayanath Herath maintains that the delay on the part of the CEB to expedite the Low Cost Long Term Generation Extension Plan (LCLTGEP) was the main reason for the ongoing crisis.
“We have always given approvals on time. There were issues in the plan they presented to us in 2015. In August that year, we communicated to them in writing that it wasn’t the LCLTGEP they had presented and asked them to amend it. They took eight months to make those amendments. The delay was on their side,” he said.
The PUCSL, said Herath, is tasked with regulating. There are conditions imposed on the CEB when interrupting power, obligating the Board to seek the Commission’s approval and inform the public before going for power cuts.
“The Act stipulates what must be done when those conditions are violated. Whoever was in place of the PUCSL would still have to take action,” he said, adding that the conditions were in place to protect consumer rights.
The PUCSL has also approved a request by the CEB to purchase 100MW of power from the private sector in the face of daily power outages.
“This has been predicted since 2016. We have given approval within three days taking into account the inconvenience placed by the public,” said Herath.
Asked how much longer the power cuts would continue, he said “We have yet to be informed, so I don’t know.”