COPE reveals CEB’s shady private power purchase deals

COPE reveals CEB’s shady private power purchase deals

Written by Staff Writer

13 Aug, 2018 | 2:13 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st) -Members of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) met with officials of the Ceylon Electricity board (CEB) and Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) recently. During the meeting, the members of COPE had been highly critical of procedures followed in power purchasing from private power plants and had also voiced concern regarding violations of the Sri Lanka Electricity act.

The secretary to the ministry of power and energy Dr Suren Batagoda, Chairman of the CEB W. B Ganegala, General Manager of the CEB A.K Samarasinghe and officials of the Generation and Transmission Unit of the CEB were summoned before COPE to inquire in order to inquire details on power purchasing.  The attention of COPE was drawn towards a particular document, which was hostile in nature, sent out by the CEB to the PUSCL. The PUCSL is incidentally the regulatory body of the CEB.

As per the electricity act, the CEB should pay a regulatory fee of Rs. 50 million annually to the PUCSL. A letter issued under the signature of General Manager of the CEB, A K Samarasinghe, notes that if the CEB is to continuing making these payments, the current Director General of the PUCSL should resign from his post.

The Chairman of COPE Sunil Handunetti had warned the officials of the CEB not to violate the terms of the electricity act and stop acting based on personal agendas.

COPE also looked into an agreement the CEB had reached with a private power plant in Embilipitiya. The decade-long agreement reached to purchase power from the private power plant concluded in 2015. Public funds worth Rs. 3 billion has been spent on the power plant.

However, on the 5th of April 2018, the CEB has extended the agreement it had with the private power plant in Embilipitiya for another 3 years. The agreement states that a further Rs. 5.4 billion of public funds will be invested in the power plant.

As per the new agreement, the monthly amount spent on ACE Embilipitiya (the private power plant) is Rs. 76 million. Even though the Government made it’s full investment in the power polant in accordance with the first agreement, the Government has once again agreed to invest a further Rs. 5.4 billion. It was questioned at COPE as to why the CEB entered into such an agreement when they could have easily brought a complete power plant for around Rs. 2.3 billion.

Officials of the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy as well as the CEB, are to be summoned before COPE once again for further inquiries on this particular agreement. Chairman of COPE Sunil Handunetti added that the recommendations of the committee will be presented before parliament in the future.

 


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