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Sri Lanka’s CEB faulted for cutting power on Feb 03

ECONOMYNEXT – A probe committee appointed by Sri Lanka’s energy ministry has faulted the state power utility, Ceylon Electricity Board saying they were not emergency cuts, but the likelihood was well known earlier, and more efforts should have been made to avoid it.

The CEB cut power on February 03, after state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation stopped supplying fuel to a 270MegaWatt private plant because its credit limit has been exceeded.

The CEB is in a financial crisis because no tariff increase has been given to it since tariffs were cut after cheaper coal plants came on line, and new cheaper coal plants were blocked.

The committee which was headed by Power Ministry Secretary K H D K Samarakoon which included university dons, said CEB should have tried harder to convince the CPC to give credit to the private West Coast power station.

CEB could also have used more hydro power to supply demand, the committee said. Though the CEB has said its ability to generate hydro power is limited due to agriculture priorities, the committee said it had enough leeway to use hydro till the next day.

Power was restored after the CPC increased its credit limit to the West Coast plant, following intervention by the ministry.

Letters had been written to CPC asking for a credit increase. And arrangements had been made by the CEB following a meeting for a power cut if fuel supply was not restored. The CEB a letter of explanation to the regulator had said that on previous occasions fuel had been restored at the last minute.

But the committee said the power cuts were not emergency in nature, as prior knowledge had existed and the CEB should have sought approval from the sector regulator, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka.

The committee said the CEB had violated a condition on its transmission license and also the Electricity Act.

The committee said there also appeared to be discrepancies in forecasting and said the CEB should make better use of its computer system and system control unit to forecast and use power plants.

Manual interventions at system control should be minimized, which will also cut the potential for manipulation, the committee said.

Using PUCSL calculation the committee said about 188 million of economic output had been lost due to power cuts.

Use of power plants should be audited.

The committee said the CEB was forced to use expensive diesel and fuel oil for base load.

“Therefore, the committee highly recommends initiate action to implement the generation options stipulated in the approved long-term generation plans to meet the future energy demand which is on the rise significantly,” the report said. (Colombo/Feb27/2020)

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