The Government will have to bear an additional cost of Rs. 50 billion to ensure uniterrupted power supply to the country if the drought continues for another six months, Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.
He said the Ministry could manage the situation without resorting to power cuts bearing the additional cost, to ensure uninterrupted power supply.
The Ministry has informed the Government regarding the additional cost to be incurred and the Government has agreed to systematically release funds for this purpose.
“We have proposed two mechanisms to the Government. One is to provide fuel without adding taxes, as was done in 2001. If there is any breakdown in power stations such as Norochcholai, the Public Utilities Commission has advised us to purchase 100 to 120 MW by calling international quotations. If anybody is willing to supply electricity to low rates without any maintenance charges, we will look into it,” the Minister said.
“We hope this drought will not prevail for another six months as rains are expected in March. We call upon the people to extend their fullest support to minimise rising energy costs. We expect the people to help us to further increase our target of saving 50 MW of electricity per day as this would definitely help us to minimise our cost,” the Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.
According to the Minister, the electricity requirement during peak hours is 2200 MW per day and is the most crucial period. “Therefore, we request the people to at least switch off a single bulb and keep the air conditioners at 26 degrees centigrade during peak hours.”
The Minister said a request has been made to the President’s Secretary to issue a circular to State institutions asking them to maintain air conditioners within the range of 26 degrees centigrade to save electricity.
The Ministry hopes to save 25 to 50 MW per day. through an awareness program in State institutions.
The Ministry will also educate the people and save 25 to 50 MW of electricity per day and several methods will be utilised for this purpose. “There are about one million street lamps in the country and we have called for a reduction in duration of illumination by one hour.
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has to incur an additional electricity use of 40 MW per day due to incandescent bulbs being used by low-income families in their houses. The Ministry has decided to give them LED bulbs either at concessionary rates or free.
Minister Siyambalapitiya said the Ministry would also introduce a reward system similar to lotteries to those who have saved electricity by 20 to 30 percent in their average monthly electricity consumtion during the past six months.
The Ministry is exploring the possibility of either granting them a waiver in the following month’s electricity bill or awarding them cash prizes. The Ministry also hopes to increase the use of solar power as much as possible.
President Maithripala Sirisena has requested all private institutions to join the campaign to reduce power consumption by switching off lights that are used for advertising and decorative purposes of their institutions.
The President pointed out that the country will have to face a power crisis in the future due to the drought and therefore, it is the responsibility of all to use power in an economical manner.
A huge amount of power is utilized for hoardings and other decorative electrical systems used by private institutions at night, for advertising purposes and through the limitation of its use, a significant amount of power could be saved. He called on everyone to support the initiative of frugal use of power until the effects of the drought are over.