Govt moves to forestall power crisis

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By 2017-01-12

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The government plans to purchase 350MW of power from the private energy production sector at Rs 36.50 per unit in a bid to mitigate the impact of power shortages expected to run from January through to April 2017, Deputy Minister of Power Ajith P. Perera said yesterday.

He said while there was no immediate need to enforce any power cuts, the lack of rainfall has seen water levels drop appreciably and thus curtail power generation. "Right now the water levels of reservoirs are at about 35%. Usually at this time of the year the water levels are at about 90%. The Public Utilities Commission has stated that the hydro reservoir shortage is less than 500 GWh (gigawatt hours). So it's not prudent to rely on the existing hydropower capacity of 1350MW which is 30% of the 3900 MWs of total installed capacity," he said.

A Cabinet Memorandum submitted by the Minister states that electricity generation has suffered due to the 'failure of the south-west and north-east monsoons'. The number of electricity units (in millions) generated through the accumulated water in reservoirs for 2016 was estimated at 2845. Production in 2015 was 4832 units, 4174 in 2014 and 5606 in 2013.

Thus, the percentage of thermal power in the electricity generation mix for 2016 had increased to 72.9% from only 57.9% in 2015.

"Initially, the Ministry was to produce 60 MWs of supplementary power through the purchase of generators through open international competitive bidding, for six months. These generators will be installed at three or more suitable locations to ease the transmission constraint that has arisen in the Central and Southern Provinces," he said.

Meanwhile the Public Utilities Commission has also made four recommendations to avoid a possible power shortage in the coming four months. They are : Full utilization of available thermal generation capacity; Self generation to reduce demand; Addition of new generation plants and Increased contribution from rooftop solar generation.

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