Rain gods save CEB

*Losses down to Rs. 200 bn

By Ifham Nizam

With sufficient water in reservoirs, following torrential rains in most parts of the country and particularly over the catchments, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) could manage the country’s energy need with Rs. 200 billion as against the earlier projected Rs. 256 billion, The Island reliably learns.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), the regulatory body of the energy sector, while admitting that the situation had improved, said they were in the process of conducting a detailed study.

The PUCSL has said the CEB could manage with Rs. 228 billion though its budgeted requirement is Rs. 256 billion.

"The good news for the public is that if the PUSCL comes out with concrete documents with supporting facts and figures, then the recent electricity tariff hike could be brought back to the earlier level," an official said.

In spite of Power and Energy Minister Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi’s claim that the CEB produced more than 70 per cent of electricity through expensive thermal power as against 30 from hydro power, since the beginning of this year, the hydro generation has been more than 50 per cent, according to officials.

According to CEB’s Systems Control Division, the current ratio is more than 60 per cent hydro as against 35 per cent thermal for most days of this year.

Last month, following President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s May Day promise to give relief to lower rung consumers, the CEB decided to forego eight billion rupees that it would have charged from that segment of power users.

Nearly 50 per cent of electricity consumers, numbering 2.4 million, use less than 60 units.

The total loss to the CEB in 2012 was Rs. 61 billion. In 2013, the expenditure of CEB jumped to Rs. 256 billion. However, the income remained at Rs. 178 billion.

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