Taxpayers’ costs reduced with Norochcholai back in action

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The taxpayer incurred his lowest additional cost of at least Rs 2.8 million (US$ 7,680) on Saturday due to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) reducing the need to burn the expensive diesel for electricity generation, aided by a 300 MW coal-fired machine of the 3X 300 MW Norochcholai Coal Fired Plant (NCFP) having being repaired.

This plant was previously out of order for 12 days beginning 15 August to Friday (26), thereby burdening the taxpayer with an additional cost of at least Rs 1.85 billion during those 12 days due to the CEB having to burn the expensive diesel and also to procure the same from independent power producers (IPPs)/private sector (PS) to provide electricity to the masses.

Due to the 15 August breakdown, the consumer already burdened by record daily power cuts, saw those power cuts being increased from one hour to three hours beginning from 16 August, because the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL)/CEB is broke to import diesel and also to pay IPPs so as to provide uninterrupted power to the country.

According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), last year, the most expensive form of electricity was ‘CEB Diesel’ which cost the CEB Rs 32.03 a unit (one kilo Watt hour (kWh)), the next most expensive was ‘IPPs Diesel’ (Rs 30.35 a unit), while the cheapest was ‘CEB Hydroelectricity'(Rs 1.67 a unit).

Meanwhile, the cost of other forms of electricity, which all belong to the renewable energy (RE) category like ‘CEB Hydroelectricity’, but excluding it and however including mini hydroelectricity, biomass electricity and wind electricity (both PS and and CEB), cost the CEB Rs 16.22 a unit, last year, according to latest CBSL data.

If, however, Norochcholai was fully operation with all three 300 MW machines (3X 300 mW) providing electricity, it would be able to meet 45 per cent of Sri Lanka’s total electricity needs. Currently one 300 MW plant is out of order, having been out of order since at least 27 June.

 Meanwhile, on Saturday RE in total met 69.92 per cent (24.06 GWh) of Sri Lanka’s electricity needs, coal (29.7 per cent/10.22 GWh)) and diesel (0.38 per cent/0.13 GWh), respectively. On Saturday, Sri Lanka consumed a total of 34.41 GWh of electricity.

NCFP was built by the Chinese when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President at a cost of US$ 1.35 billion to the taxpayer in a mix of commercial cum ‘concessional’ loans, sans tender call. However, since the commissioning of NCFP a couple of years ago, it has, more often than not, like now, has, at least been partially out of order.

BY Paneetha Ameresekere