ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will see an unprecedented seven-hour scheduled power outage on Wednesday (02), with some areas expected to lose electricity for seven hours and 30 minutes.
The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) confirmed the decision to reporters Tuesday (01) afternoon.
The island nation is in the midst of a power crisis on top of a severe forex shortage as the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) struggles to find fuel for thermal power generation, even as the reservoirs used for hydro power generation continue to run dry. On February 15, the CEB sought PUCSL permission for daily scheduled power cuts until further notice to provide electricity to meet peak demand during the day and at night.
On Tuesday, the CEB announced a three-hour power cut during day time and a possible 30-minute cut at night.
Even though the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has issued dollars for the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to pay for diesel off a ship that arrived last weekend, authorities have said it will not be sufficient to run the country’s thermal plants continuously.
The CEB said that, due to the unavailability of fuel, several thermal plants have been forced to shut down, while the MahaWeli Authority has instructed the utility provider to limit the drawdown of Castlereigh, Mausakelle and Samanalawewa reservoirs which are used for hydro power generation.
According to Wednesday’s power cut schedule, E and F areas will have outages of five hours each between 8am and 6pm and two hours power cuts between 6pm and 11pm.
In P, Q, R, S, T, U, V and W areas, power cuts of five hours will be imposed between 8am and 6pm and two hours and 30 minutes between 6pm and 11pm.
“If we can’t get credit from banks, if the government is not giving us any relief and if we also cannot increase prices, tell me where to find money to bring in diesel,” Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila told the privately owned Derana Tv on Tuesday (01).
“We have 20,000 metric tonnes of diesel in stock, enough for four days. There is another ship coming tomorrow.”
Gammapila said the government should understand priorities when importing products into the country.
“Our imports bill for the last year was one of the biggest [on record], which was 21 billion US dollars. Only 2.8 billion dollars was spent on fuel,” he said.
“According to CBSL, we have spent 6 billion US dollars for non-essential items such as drinking water, dhal, apple, and other fruits. Their reason for importing these items such as fruits is that tourists are demanding these items. But if tourists come and they have to stay in the dark with no electricity, or can’t travel because of fuel shortages, they will not visit Sri Lanka again. So we have to identify the priorities. This is a more crucial situation than the war we faced in the past,” the minister said. (Colombo/Mar01/2022)