CEB engineers say govt living in dream land

by Dasun Edirisinghe

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) would lose more than Rs. 25 billion next year if it continued to buy electricity from high cost thermal power produced with diesel and renewable energy from the private sector without going for coal – fired power plant at Sampur, CEB engineers said yesterday.

President of the CEB Engineers Union Athula Wanniarachchi said the government would have to increase electricity tariff and other taxes or obtain loans to meet the additional cost.

"We are certain that two or three coal-fired power plants are needed for the country to provide electricity to consumers at a low cost," he said, adding, however, the government had already adopted a no coal policy after being misled by some economic experts.

He said they tried to hoodwink the people that the renewable energy such as solar or wind power was cheaper than coal, but it was not true. The country had already tapped its hydro power potential and there were no more major hydro power projects to be undertaken.

The CEB purchased electricity generated by wind or solar at Rs. 22 per unit from the private sector currently, but the cost of producing one unit of electricity from the Norachcholai coal-fired power plant was Rs. 4.16, Wanniarachchi said.

"If we meet the electricity demand in 2017 with diesel, solar or wind power, electricity tariffs would have to be increased definitely," he said.

Wanniarachchi said the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), too, had misled people on proposed tariff hike.

The PUCSL wanted to show that the CEB clamoured to increase the tariff, but it was not allowing it to save the customer, he said, adding that it was wrong.

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