Power cuts may continue even with May rains

Pamodi Waravita

Even if rains arrive as expected in the month of May, power cuts would continue if the ongoing fuel shortage carries on into the coming months, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) told The Morning yesterday (27).

“This year, the water levels in the reservoirs are extremely low, compared to the previous years. Sri Lanka generates electricity using hydropower, thermal power, coal power, and renewable energy sources. Even if we get enough rains in May, power cuts will continue in the following months if fuel is not received for the generation of electricity through thermal power,” CEBEU President Anil Ranjith told The Morning yesterday.

Ranjith claimed that when the CEB requested for short power outages in December 2021, it was denied by the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), which led to a faster decline in water levels in reservoirs as less water was conserved.

The Power Ministry said last week in a press release that the CEB’s hydropower stations’ water levels have reached drastically low levels, and as such, is severely affecting the generation of electricity from hydropower. The ministry said that the Castlereigh Dam’s water level has decreased to 13.41 metres (m) below its spill point which allows it to only generate 15.7 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity, which is only 16.5% of the dam’s total output. The Maussakele Reservoir’s water level has decreased to 12.84 metres below its spill point and can only produce 87.7 GWh of electricity. Furthermore, the Samanalawewa Reservoir’s water level has decreased to 12.84 metres below its spill point and can only produce 87.7 GWh of electricity.

Commenting on the main reservoirs connected to the Mahaweli Development Project, the ministry said that the Kotmale Dam’s water level has decreased to 24.10 metres below its spill point and can only produce 31.70 GWh more of electricity. The Victoria Dam’s water level has decreased to 24.72 metres below its spill point and can only produce 152.6 GWh of electricity. The Randenigala Dam’s water level has decreased to 8.48 metres below its spill point and can only produce 60.5 GWh of electricity. Thus, the ministry requested consumers to use electricity sparingly.

A series of issues has plagued the country’s energy-related sector since the beginning of the year. Since January 2022, the CEB has been struggling to source fuel for its thermal power stations, as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), which imports fuel, has been throttled by the foreign exchange shortage in the country. Ultimately, the Sri Lankan public has been forced to endure lengthy power cuts lasting hours per day following routine shutdowns of the thermal power stations.

However, in a statement last Friday (25), PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said that the CPC had guaranteed that from this week, the necessary daily fuel requirement of about 3,500 metric tonnes (MT) will be duly supplied to the CEB.

“CPC has guaranteed that the daily requirement of 3,500 MT of fuel will be supplied from next week so consumers can be assured that power cuts prevailing at the moment will reduce drastically. If we can manage hydropower generation to seven million units, we can hope to reduce power cuts to two to three hours per day. We also approved certain power purchasing agreements last week to aid the Southern Province as the Province does not have enough power plants for electricity generation,” said Ratnayake last week.

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Gamini Lokuge told the media last Saturday (26) that fuel queues would end following the Sinhala and Tamil New Year in April.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: