In a dramatic turn of events, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) yesterday announced power cuts while the Power and Energy Ministry said the announcement was a mistake.
The CEB announced three hour power cuts from yesterday till March 31. The three hour power cut was divided in to a 2 hour outage during the daytime and an hour in the night, in a detailed schedule published in their official website.
Contrary to this information, a ministry spokesman Sulakshana Jayawardana claimed that the schedule was a mistake and it will be withdrawn.
However scheduling power cuts have been featured prominently in the discussion on electricity demand management held in the ministry yesterday morning. The need for power cuts was heightened as AES Kalanithissa-an Independent Power Producer (IPP) - supplying165 Megawatts to the National Grid shut down unexpectedly following a technical issue.
Despite the Engineers’ Union insisting on power cuts, a decision was taken by the ministry against scheduled power cuts.
The union insisted on power cuts as the Mahawali Authority was not willing to release water from the Randenigala, Rantabe and Victoria tanks for power generation, which resulted in the over use of water storage of Maussakele and Castlereigh reducing it to critical levels.
“However, following a decision taken yesterday at the ministry,the Mahawali Authority will conduct systematic release of water from Randenigala and Rantabe for power generation,” Ministry Secretary B.M.S Batagoda said.
“There was a discussion regarding power cuts but we decided against it.
There may be localized power cuts at different times to effectively manage the supply when the demand in the area becomes too large to handle. But, we have decided not to have scheduled power cuts,” Dr. Batagoda told the Daily News.
According to him, this decision has not been communicated effectively to the CEB officers.
Meanwhile, CEB Chairman W.D.A.S. Wijayapala claimed that the power cut schedule was developed and uploaded before the final decision was made.
Wijayapala said that the schedule uploaded was drawn up without taking into consideration the rainfall received on Sunday and Monday.
“The final decision not to impose power cuts was taken only last evening , and this schedule was drawn up before that,” he said.