PUCSL to consult public on power tariff hike

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The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) will seek public consultation, on the increase in electricity tariffs, as soon as the Government’s policy decision is published.

PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said, the PUCSL will place an advertisement in the newspapers to solicit public opinion on the electricity tariff increase because the PUCSL is the final authority on the matter.

He noted that the PUCSL will make its decision following CEB recommendations for a tariff increase, after which the Government’s policy will be sought.

Following that, the PUCSL will seek Cabinet approval before increasing the tariff based on sectors and electricity consumption.

Rathnayake said the public consultation will be held to gather people’s ideas and suggestions on the tariff increase.

In light of the PUCSL’s proposal to raise electricity tariffs, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said the Government believes electricity tariffs should be revised after nine long years.

He said the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) last revised tariffs in 2014, when electricity tariffs were reduced by 25 per cent.

Addressing the media, he noted that the CEB has made repeated requests in this regard. The Public Utilities Commission has also tabled several proposals on the subject, but none of these requests or proposals have been approved.

He also said the Cabinet of Ministers is aware of the proposals and the need to raise the electricity tariff, but that an increase to low-income earner categories and certain government buildings, such as hospitals, is impossible to implement.

“As a result, it is proposed to revise tariffs for industries and hotels with high electricity consumption. While plans for an increase in electricity tariffs are being developed, we also intend to launch a rapid renewable energy generation plan on 1 June to address the power crisis. One suggestion under this plan is to install rooftop solar panels in industries, hotels, and government buildings during the month of June, as electricity tariffs are expected to triple in most of these sectors,” he said.

Wijesekara said that the ministry will inform government institutions and private industries in writing about the level of the tariff hike they will face once a tariff revision is implemented, and that if they invest their monthly electricity costs on installing rooftop solar panels, they will negotiate a monthly payment with these companies.

“We can then provide them with solar panels. They can reduce their electricity costs this way, and the national grid will be relieved because they would not rely on it. They can run on electricity generated by solar panels during the day. When it is cloudy, they can get electricity from the national grid,” he pointed out.

In addition, the minister highlighted that discussions with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Finance Ministry on the purchase of relevant equipment are currently underway. He also said that they are looking into importing solar panels through private companies using the Indian credit line.

The Ministry of Power has also directed the Sustainable Energy Authority (SEA) and the CEB to provide provisional approvals for the proposed renewable energy protects under the rapid renewable energy generation plan.

“It is claimed that renewable energy projects cannot be approved without a transmission line and due to a lack of grid capacity. The plan is to build grid capacity and a transmission line before granting approval. That was changed. We requested project approval and the construction of the transmission line by the investor, rather than the project being approved now and beginning three years after the transmission line is built with CEB funds,” he said.

By Thameenah Razeek