Did the Norochcholai breakdown lead to current power situation?

Did the Norochcholai breakdown lead to current power situation?

Did the Norochcholai breakdown lead to current power situation?

Written by Amani Nilar

16 Feb, 2022 | 6:38 am

COLOMBO (News 1st); The average daily maximum demand for electricity in the country is around 2650 MW, and a significant portion of this is generated to the national grid from the Mahaweli, Laxapana and Samanala hydropower plants.

In addition, the Norochcholai Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant is the power plant that adds the most amount of power to the national grid.

The country has been facing two major issues ever since the beginning of last December with regard to the energy sector. These include the country facing a dollar crisis which made it impossible to purchase even the most basic necessities, including fuel. 

Several other issues caused electrical engineers to take trade union action over the New Fortress LNG deal, the process of LNG tenders being suspended, the suspension of amending the Electricity Board Act No. 17 of 1969, prevent the politicization of the post of General Manager and to suspend the transfer of senior managers.

On November 26th, the then General Manager issued a circular expanding the powers of the Electricity Superintendents to mitigate the impact of this trade union action.

A few days later, on the second night there was a breakdown in the Weliwita area in Kaduwela.

A complaint was lodged on the morning of the 3rd that the electrical engineers were allowed to rectify the power outage.

However, it was reasoned that a breakdown in the main transmission line from Kotmale to Biyagama caused the power outage.

Yet, the General Manager of the Electricity Board said on the same day that it was doubtful whether this had anything to do with the trade unions.

Accordingly, a complaint was lodged not only with the Ministry but also with the CID.

A statement by the Minister of Power, Gamini Lokuge on the 16th of January further confirmed the suspicion of the Kotmale Sapugaskanda crash being a result of a sabotage operation and he stated that legal action will be taken after discussions with the President once a report is received.

The Minister said that a power outage of such caliber is not like simply turning a light switch off, and this incident will cause problems with two generators at Norochcholai, while the third generator will not be repaired until the 30th January.

Subsequently, Chinese experts were brought down to the country to fix the generator.

Expensive fuel power plants will have to be commissioned to replace the lost 300 megawatts however, according to the Minister, power cuts will have to be imposed as there was no foreign exchange to purchase oil.

The economic loss to the country due to this breakdown resulted in the billions, the Power Minister said.

In addition, the reservoirs that could have been used sparingly until March and April will have to open up a little more water to generate electricity.

Therefore, it is doubtful whether there is enough water in the reservoirs now to harvest the coming season.

In addition, if it does not rain by March or April, hydropower electricity generation will be impossible. If such an incident takes place, the country will have to go for a power cut rather than the loss of 300 megawatts.

However, in the midst of all these issues, the very General Manager who sought a solution about the disruptive activity that broke out in Norochcholai which was the source of the crisis, was removed under the influence of the Electrical Engineers Association

Subsequently, he appointed a member of his association to that post, while no news of the reports or CID investigations have come through.

The question remains, who was responsible for the billions of dollars in economic losses that have befallen the country?

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