Power cuts will continue in 2023 despite tariff hike, claim CEB engineers

Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) President Nihal Weeraratne claimed that lengthy power cuts next year will not be prevented by a tariff hike because of the lack of coal necessary for electricity generation.  
“We can’t supply electricity just because of a tariff hike, unless the required amount of coal is provided. The tariff is being increased so that the CEB can be privatised, because anyone buying this over will not buy it at such a low cost. 
Money received from selling the CEB is not going to work generators, as generators need coal,” claimed Weeraratne while speaking to the media yesterday (15), warning that Sri Lanka might have to face a “black and dark March” in 2023 similar to the “black and dark July”, as the required amount of coal needed for the Lakvijaya Power Plant in Norochcholai, which supplies electricity to 45% of the population, has not been supplied yet.

“A minimum of at least 24 shipments of coal are needed if we are to save ourselves from this situation, but now that will not be possible. We started bringing in the required amount of coal last year (2021) and we still had to endure long power cuts, even with the required amount of coal, when fuel was limited. Now fuel is limited and so is coal. Without coal, one can only imagine how serious power outages will be. On Wednesday (14), the percentage of water in the hydropower plants was 75% and it is gradually decreasing, more than during other years. A crisis in supplying electricity is coming. We will have to face an unusual situation. We cannot predict whether power outages will be 10 hours, 11 hours, or even 24 hours long.”

Meanwhile, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has expressed hope that the ongoing rolling power interruptions could possibly be ended by mid next year. He made this remark during an event held in Badulla yesterday (15). However, the President noted that this situation could change if a drought prevails in the country.

Addressing Parliament last week, President Wickremesinghe revealed that the CEB had incurred losses amounting to around Rs. 300 billion since 2013, and further stated that in the event Sri Lanka faces a drought next year (2023) as predicted, an additional Rs. 420 billion would be required. The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) revealed this week that the CEB had reached a decision pertaining to its yearly bonus due for the year 2022. Accordingly, it was decided by the CEB’s Board of Directors and its trade unions that they would forgo their bonuses for this year. The PUCSL commended the initiative, given that it would enable the CEB to save billions of rupees amidst its ongoing crisis. Meanwhile, the President, the Ministry of Power and Energy, and the CEB are pushing for a tariff hike, while the PUCSL is vetoing the move.