N’Cholai breakdown costs Rs 386M in two days

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The taxpayer would have incurred an additional Rs 386 million (Rs 385,577,400) cost for electricity generation in the two consecutive days to Tuesday (16 August) alone despite increased power cuts due to the latest breakdown of the 300 mW X 3 (900) mW Norochcholai Coal Power Plant (NCPP) that took place on Monday (15), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) data from yesterday showed.

Till Sunday, with just one of three 300 mW plants malfunctioning then as opposed to two currently, only 600 mW of electricity power out of a total of 900 m W was generated by the NCPP.

But on the following day Monday, CEB reported that the second 300 mW coal plant was also malfunctioning, resulting in NCPP being functional in only a third (300 mW) of its full capacity of 900 mW and CEB increasing its record daily power cuts by 200 per cent or three fold, from one hour to three hours, effective from Tuesday, as Sri Lanka has no US dollars to import diesel or to pay independent power producers (IPPs/private sector) to ensure uninterrupted power.

Monday’s NCPP breakdown only has resulted in an additional cost of Rs 386 million for electricity generation to the taxpayer for the two consecutive days to Tuesday alone by consuming the more expensive diesel to generate power, CEB data showed.

If, however, the NCPP was fully functional, it has the capacity to meet 45 per cent of Sri Lanka’s electricity demand. But more often than not, NCPP is malfunctional, with a 300 mW plant of it being malfunctional at least since 27 June, that is, for 52 days to yesterday and now, another of its 300 mW plants malfunctional since Monday, resulting in NCPP being able to provide only 300 mW of power.

Consequently, coal provided only 16.05 per cent (6.5 gigawatt hours (GWh)) of Sri Lanka’s total electricity consumption on Tuesday (40.5 GWh), while on the previous day Monday it was 16.17 per cent (6.66 GWh). Sri Lanka consumed a total of 40.5 GWh of electricity on Tuesday, while on the previous day Monday it was an enhanced value of 41.18 GWh due to reduced power cuts.

In the 17 consecutive days to Tuesday, over 50 per cent of Sri Lanka’s electricity demand has been met by the cheap and clean renewable electricity (RE) led by ‘CEB Hydro,’ the cheapest source of electricity to the CEB, according to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL).

By Paneetha Ameresekere