Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB’s) bottom line was burned by 40.39 per cent (Rs 112.92 million) on Friday (16 September alone), thereby reducing its generation profits to 279.57 million  due to the malfunctioning 3X300 mW Norochcholai Coal Fired Power Plant (NCFPP) on Friday, an analysis of CEB data showed.

If NCFPP was fully functional, it has the capacity to meet 40 per cent of Sri Lanka’s electricity generation needs. But because of this particular malfunction, which has been the ‘bane’ of CEB at least since 27 June, NCFPP provided only 31.04 per cent of Sri Lanka’s electricity requirements on Friday, with another 58.32 per cent met by renewable energy (RE) and the balance 10.64 per cent, met by the expensive ‘CEB diesel’ and independent power producers’ (IPP)/private sector diesel together.

Consequently, CEB’s generation profits in the 13 consecutive days to Friday were reduced by Rs 337.3 million (7.75 per cent) to Rs 4,630.37 million due to the malfunctioning NCFPP. 

The 900 mW (3X300 mW) NCFPP was built during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s era at a cost of US$ 1.35 billion sans tender call by the Chinese in a mix of commercial and ‘concessional’ loans. But more often than not, it has been malfunctioning since at least its full commissioning on 16 September 2014. The first of its 300 mW machines was commissioned on 22 March 2011.

Computation of CEB’s costs and income is based on data provided by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL’s) 2021 Annual Report. It discounts the 75 per cent electricity tariff hike which was effected from 9 August 2022(‘Ceylon Today’s’ 10 August 2022 Edition) which will have had enhanced CEB’s electricity generation profits.

 Average CEB tariff rate last year according to the CBSL was Rs 16.37 a unit (kilo Watt hour). Calculations also discount CEB’s transmission and distribution losses estimated at 8.72 per cent last year. According to the CBSL’s 2021 Annual Report, the cheapest source of electricity to the CEB last year was “CEB Hydroelectricity” at a cost of Rs 1.67 (one kilo Watt hour (kWh)) a unit followed by coal (Rs 10.68), “Other renewable energy (RE) such as wind and mini-hydro electricity at Rs 16.22 a unit and IPP’ diesel (Rs 30.35 a unit) and ‘CEB diesel’(Rs 32.03), respectively. 

By Paneetha Ameresekere