CEB suspected of sabotaging electricity supply

By Easwaran Rutnam


The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has been suspected of sabotaging the electricity supply earlier this month which resulted in unannounced power cuts in parts of the country.

A committee appointed by the Ministry of Power and Energy (MoPE) to investigate the unannounced power cuts has submitted a report to the Ministry which reveals the power cuts could have been avoided.

The report seen by this writer accuses the CEB of violating condition the Transmission License issued to the Ceylon Electricity Board and as a result abusing the Electricity Act.

The report also estimates that the impact to the economy as a result of the curtailment of 1.4 GWh of power on 3rd February between 10.45 am and 17.02 pm was around Rs. 188 million

In a report submitted to the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), the CEB had said that it was forced to cut power in some areas earlier this month after the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation suspended fuel to some power stations.

The CEB had said that it had to shut down the West Coast Power Plant, ACE Power in Matara and all small thermal power plants in Thulhiriya, Mathugama and Kolonnawa on 3rd February as the CPC had suspended fuel to the CEB.

The CEB said that in order to ensure there was no total system failure, steps were taken to implement load shedding.

However, the CPC has told the investigations committee that they were not given any indication that CEB was going to impose a power interruption on 3rd February due to non-availability of fuel.

The committee appointed by the Ministry of Power and Energy headed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Power K.H.D.K. Samarakoon also found that there was enough power to ensure uninterrupted power supply on 3rd February.

In its conclusions based on its observations made during interviews with the relevant officers, documents received, site visits and its own professional judgement, the electricity power supply interruption on 3rd February is of the manual rotational load shedding type and cannot be thus attributed to an emergency interruption.

The report asserts that the CEB should have endeavoured to manage the situation without resorting to an interruption of power through proper communication and coordination with the Ministry of Power and Energy, CPC, and the Treasury in adopting better planning and situation analysis since January 2020.

The committee also observed that the CEB could have dispatched 1.4 GWh of available hydro between 10.45 am and 17.02 pm on Monday, 3rd February 2020 without significant impact on hydro storage and avoid the interruption.

“ Interruption being of the nature of rotational load shedding Transmission Licensee, CEB has thus violated the condition 30 (10) of the Transmission License No: EL/T/09-002 issued to Ceylon Electricity Board and consequently it has also violated the Electricity Act,” the committee report found.