ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to bring a reform plan to unbundle Ceylon Electricity Bord to parliament in September separating generation, transmission and generation, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.
After unbundling there will be four distribution companies.
They could state or public private partnerships but all would be required to provide a high level of service and high-quality electricity to consumers, Wijesekera said.
Minister Wijesekera was speaking at a forum organized by the Asian Development Bank where two publications on the ‘Lanka Electricity Company’ and the ‘On the Road to Full Electrification in Sri Lanka’.
The ADB was supporting the electricity sector with expertise and is also working the near term under and International Monetary Fund program, Wijesekera said.
The ADB had a long history is supporting reforms and network development. The first ‘unbundling’ of the power sector dated back to the 1980s, with the setting up of Lanka Electric Company.
Lanka Electric Company was a distribution company set up in 1980s with the support of the ADB. It took over fragmented distribution networks run by municipal councils and local authorities.
Only 12 percent of country was electrified at the time.
In 1982, there were 219 such networks with high losses, when KKYW Perera was secretary to the ministry of power.
The CEB provided power to the Municipal Councils but network losses were 50 percent, Tilak Siyambalapitiya, power sector analyst and former planner said. At the time CEB’s losses were 17 percent.
H S Subasinghe, a CEB general manager was appointed as Chairman of LECO, which took over the ailing networks. Subasinghe served a total three terms and was responsible pioneering technology.
Old networks were completely pulled down and replaced with new technology, supported by ADB credits.
LECO used overhead insulated bundled conductors instead of bare wires, reducing theft.
Transformers mounted on a single concrete pole designed by LECO on 11kV lines with short low voltage connections to customers.
“The iconic pole that you now see was designed by engineer M Chandrasena,” Siyambalapitiya said.
LECO has since brought energy losses to 4 percent. LECO was making profits due to lower than allowed losses.
ADB had played key role in funding the Ceylon Electricity Board and making Sri Lanka 100 percent electrified.
The CEB designed a series of rural electrification schemes, which were given to lenders to fund. The ADB was a key financier of the network development.
By 2000, 63 percent of the population had electricity.
By 2016 100 percent of the country was electrified. Among key policy changes that allowed it was a decision to expand networks to non-commercial areas and give financial support to less affluent customers to wire their houses.