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Will pass on CEB gains to consumers: Sri Lanka minister

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ECONOMYNEXT – Minister of power and energy Kanchana Wijesekera said that if the Ceylon Electricity Board makes any operating profit by December due to rains, those gains will be passed onto consumers in April.

Wijesekera said the CEB is currently facing a financial deficit of Rs 12 billion. However, given the prevailing rain conditions, it is anticipated that there may be a positive turn in the financial outlook.

“If operational profits are realized by December, as determined through financial calculations, a concession will be extended to consumers in April,” Wijesekera said at a press briefing at the Presidential Media Centre on Saturday (25).

“Furthermore, the government has issued instructions to the relevant departments to reassess the fee for reconnection. It is anticipated that the current reconnection fee, set at Rs 3,000, will be revised to a range between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000.”

The Cabinet granted approval last Monday for the CEB restructuring. Steps are underway to gazette and submit the new Electricity Act to Parliament within the next two weeks.

The Minister said there were misconceptions raised in Parliament concerning the configuration of electricity generation, transmission and distribution.

“The proposal entails restructuring power generation into four distinct companies. The entire hydroelectricity sector will remain under government control. The management of power plants situated in close proximity to Mahaweli, Lakshapana and Samanalaweva will also be retained by the government.”

As part of this restructuring initiative, it has been decided to consolidate the Norochcholai power plant under a single company, while all other power plants will be grouped together under a separate entity, Wijesekera said.

The proposal includes the establishment of a distinct company dedicated to transmission work, with the main control system under government ownership.

“The restructuring of the electricity board is anticipated improvements in efficiency, quality and reduction of wastage. The initiative takes into consideration existing laws and regulations in various countries worldwide.

“The implementation of the restructuring plan is slated to follow the submission of the draft, incorporating feedback and suggestions from various stakeholders, including experts of the relevant field.

Wijesekera said the country had suffered the loss of numerous power plants as a consequence of delayed policy decisions and the prolonged non-implementation of previously made decisions.

“The proposed construction of the Sampur power plant faced a significant setback when the decision was made in 2016 to forego its construction. Originally slated for completion in 2020, the non-realization of the Sampur plant has resulted in an annual loss of Rs 95 billion.”

He added that there are plans to sign agreements for five more projects before the end of the current year.

“The forthcoming agreements include collaborations with the Adani wind power plant in Mannar, the construction of a solar panel power plant in Siambalanduwa, the Hambantota solar panel project, also projects proposed for Batticaloa and Punakari.” (Colombo/Nov25/2023)

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