CEB Union to launch ‘work to rule’ | Daily News

CEB Union to launch ‘work to rule’

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) has decided to ‘work to rule’ from May 8 in protest of what they see as the state’s failure to ensure an uninterrupted power supply in the country.

Addressing a media briefing at the Organization of Professional Associations (OPA) in Colombo yesterday, CEBEU President Saumya Kumarawadu explained that the cost of the generation of electricity has been on the rise since 2015, resulting in the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) continuing to face heavy losses.

Last year, the CEB incurred a loss of Rs. 45 billion and this year they expected it to exceed Rs. 50 billion. The generation cost in 2015 had stood at Rs 15.06/kwh with the addition of the Norochcholai Power Plant (300MW) to the grid at the end of 2014. Since then, however, no new source of energy has been added to the grid, and coupled with the prevailing drought and the need to resort to more diesel power plants, the cost had risen to Rs 21.32/kwh by 2017.

“Electricity prices are simply going to rise in the future. We see no sign of it reducing,” said Kumarawadu, adding that the state enterprise CEB would continue to face losses until a low cost power plant was added to the grid.

The Union’s actions also come in the wake of them not being able to resolve issues with the utility regulator, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) which has refused to approve in total its 20 year Least Cost Long Term Generation Expansion Plan (LCLTGEP), with approval being given only for the next five years. The PUCSL has insisted that the CEB remove coal from its energy mix and opt for LNG instead. The regulator has forwarded their own LCLTGEP for the CEB to follow.

Kumarawadu noted that the PUCSL was only a regulatory body with the responsibility of ensuring that their plan was in line with the government policy and thus they had no power or expertise to draw up their own plans.

“We have discussed this several times and we had proposed a generation mix of LNG, coal, hydro, wind, solar, etc. But the PUCSL asks that we build all future thermal plants with just LNG. This will be a major risk to the energy security of the country”.

They also alleged that the PUCSL was approving 400MW and 500MW LNG plants brought forward by private Japanese and Indian investors in the guise of government to government projects when they rejected the CEB’s own 300MW proposal stating that it was too large for the system.

The PUCSL is merely catering to private interests, he added.

The Union has in the last two years met President Sirisena twice and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe thrice to explain but neither had offered them a solution to the energy crisis at hand, said the Union.

They demand that approval be granted to the CEB’s LCLTGEP 2018-2038 plan, immediate action be taken to allocate lands to build low cost power plants, devise a proper mechanism to provide a government subsidy to CEB for incurring losses as a result of no new power plants being built and amend the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No 20 of 2009 appropriately to remove the unnecessary impediments for the proper functioning of the CEB. Other unions within the CEB have also agreed to support the strike action.

The failure to add new power plants to the grid, be it coal or LNG will result in the CEB not being able to meet the demands for power in the country.

 


 

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