Power Outage Deliberate – CEB Chairman
By Thameenah Razeek
The major islandwide power outage on Friday (3) was caused “on purpose” by a group of individuals, Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.C. Ferdinando claimed.
“I cannot claim that this was done as an act of sabotage or treason, but what I can affirm is that the power outage at 11:00 a.m. on Friday was caused on purpose,” he said.
It was reported that the power outage occurred as a result of a technical failure at a key transmission line.
When asked why some parts of the country were experiencing outages from time to time, even when the CEB announced that power was restored after several hours, he noted that due to the Norochcholai Power Plant not reaching 900 MW, which is the full capacity, despite the transmission system being restored.
“We will have a significant loss of load until we can repair the station. Everyone will have access to electricity. However, there may be power outages in various places after 6:30 p.m. This is because the load on the electricity system is insufficient. The consumers need 2600 MW per night and the Norochcholai power plant not functioning at full capacity. Therefore, 900 MW would not be provided and as a result, consumers might experience power outages from time to time after 6.30 p.m. This is the normal procedure when we experience something like this.”
Secretary to the Ministry of Power Wasantha Perera said the Ministry has initiated an internal investigation into the islandwide power outage, which lasted more than five hours.
She did, however, state that they are still unsure whether this is an act of sabotage.
Meanwhile, the CEB management believes that the power outages are the result of sabotage caused by engineers and the CEB trade unions were chastised for dragging their feet on the supply restoration effort.
Ministry of Power Spokesman Sulakshana Jayawardena said the islandwide blackout was caused by a problem with the transmission line from Kothmale to Biyagama.
Later in the day, Sri Lanka Railways also announced that its operations from Fort, Colombo, will be impacted by the power outage. The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) also announced that the power outage interrupted water supply in numerous areas in Colombo and its suburbs. CEB General Manager Eng. M.R. Ranatunge stated that power was restored to numerous places in Colombo at around 2.30 p.m. and that power would be restored throughout the island within the day.
However, Chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), Janaka Ratnayake, said the power outage, which lasted more than five hours, will be thoroughly investigated.
He said that PUCSL officers are following the process and what is going on, and that the commission will publish its view on the matter later. The transmission failure occurred around 7.35 p.m. on 29 November, and the demand for electricity was high at the time, causing Mahaweli power plant to shut down.
This power outage occurred in a backdrop of CEB Engineers’ Union initiating a work-to-rule campaign demanding to revise the Yugadhanavi power plant deal with a US firm.
Following the power outage, CEB engineers temporarily called off their work-to-rule campaign.
Sri Lanka experienced a partial power outage on 29 November due to another technical malfunction at a transmission line, and when questioned, Sulakshana Jayawardena stated that the high voltage transmission line from Kotmale to Biyagama had failed, causing power outages in several areas of the island.