Sri Lanka is likely to fall into darkness soon after the lifting of power cuts after increasing electricity tariff by 66 percent recently not because of shortage of coal or fuel to run power plants by due to the dearth of qualified and experienced in engineers owing to brain drain, energy ministry sources said.
At least 72 engineers of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and 22 of them were attached to Norochcholai power plant have left the board for greener pastures overseas owing to high taxation and sky rocketing of cost of living in the country a senior official of the ministry said.
This has led to a threat of shutting down the coal power plant causing loss of 540 mega watts to the national grid, he said adding that this situation will prompt the CEB to resume power cuts in the island once again, co; secretary of the CEB engineers union Isuru Kathuriratne said.
Services of 123 engineers are needed to maintain the daily operation of the Norochcholai power plant but only 100 of them are engaged power plant operation at present , he disclosed.
If this situation is continued the CEB has no option other than the shut down of the powerplant paralyzing the power supply he pointed out. .
After a year of load-shedding, Sri Lankans l get continuous power supply recently with a hike in tariff in line with the conditions set by the IMF.
The Sri Lankan government’s move comes as the debt-hit country aims to secure a much-needed US$ 2.9 billion bailout loan from the Washington-based global lender.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe has directed officials to ensure an uninterrupted power supply to customers after the tariff revision is implemented, a statement from the President’s Media Division said.
Without increasing tariffs, the engineers have proposed several policy changes including utilizing the extra hydropower which saved hydropower reservoirs for drinking and farming during the dry season by changing the current minimum level.
Since during monsoons, the majority of these reservoirs reach spill level or spilled over without the saved water being utilized for any purpose.
Further, the Government can introduce a tax concession for solar power users as a concession for solar batteries to save solar power to use during the night-time.
“There are over 30,000 rooftop solar panels that are without batteries due to the high cost given the taxes. If the Government can introduce a tax concession, many would shift to solar, which would contribute to the national grid as well,” he said.
The CEB anticipated a loss of Rs. 152 billion by the end of this year, despite electricity tariff reforms that were implemented in August.
According to the ministry statistics, the CEB has incurred a loss of Rs. 108.6 billion in the first eight months of this year. The CEB expects an additional income of Rs. 15 billion following August’s tariff revisions last year.