Electricity shock imminent

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Pointing out that it will be a difficult task to supply electricity at current rates as the fuel bill for power generation has exceeded USD $100 million per month and that the average per unit cost of generation has increased to Rs 48, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekara hinted at an electricity tariff increase in June.

In a series of tweets, Wijesekara said converting industries, State hospitals, hotels and other roof space available for roof top solar would be a quick solution as the current electricity bill will triple in most of the above sectors with proposed tariff rates changes.

“They can invest the current electricity bill amount on solar panels to be paid monthly to the solar companies to lessen the burden on their institutions and also CEB grid. CEB can manage the hydro and thermal power plants to be used during the night time to reduce generation cost. Provisional approvals are to be granted immediately for proposed projects. Make rates to be reasonable. After the approval is issued, work with CEB, SEA and Investor for transmission line and grid capacity enhancement with the required investment coming from the project investor,” the Minister tweeted.

Apart from them, large-scale investments for selected renewable projects will be accommodated after technical and financial evaluation, he added.

Meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also called on the experts in the power sector to help make a significant contribution from renewable energy sources to the national grid.

“The Government has set a target to generate 70 per cent of the total electricity demand from renewable energy sources. Potential already exists to generate nearly 700 MW of electricity from solar energy, however, public opinion is that it has not been made possible due to the opposition of the CEB engineers,” he said adding that it could be rectified and that a practical contribution can be made in resolving the power crisis.

These observations were made at a discussion held at the President’s House to look into the issues faced when obtaining the contribution of renewable energy sources to power generation.

“Solar power generation has become a major strategy in many countries around the world. Roof-top solar panel systems should be used as an immediate solution to the ongoing power crisis,” he said.

Additional General Manager (Transmission) of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) P.W. Hendahewa pointed out that based on the existing capacity of the main power grid, a new power generation amounting to 1,000 MW can be added to the grid. It costs Rs100 to generate a unit of electricity using petroleum and more than Rs 50 using coal.

Damitha Kumarasinghe, Director General of the Public Utilities Commission said more than USD 300 billion can be saved annually if renewable energy sources are used instead. Thermal power generation costs more than USD 100 million a month.

Accordingly, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera pointed out that it will be a difficult task to supply electricity at current prices. The Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, said that a large area of land could be saved by utilising the roofs of government buildings including schools and hospitals to generate solar energy. Secretary to the President Gamini Senarath, Chief of Staff to the President Anura Dissanayake, Secretaries to Ministries and Heads of Line Institutions were also present during this meeting.