Half-an-hour power cuts will be imposed from end of this month on an area-by-area basis as hydropower generation has been hit by a prolonged drought, Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman E.A.S.K. Edirisinghe said.
He said the CEB was trying its best to avoid the Western province when power cuts are imposed as it could have an adverse impact on the economy.
Mr. Edirisinghe said the CEB was depending more on thermal power generation in the face of the drought and this had added to the cost of power generation. "Water levels have gone down by 25 percent, making hydropower generation near impossible. If we don't get adequate rain we have no choice but to go for power cuts,” Mr. Edirisinghe said.
According to Mr. Edirisinghe, the country’s daily power consumption is 1750 megawatts with hydropower accounting for 850 megawatts. The rest is produced through thermal power. However, at present, only 20 percent of the power generation comes from hydropower.
He said providing electricity through thermal power was costly and it had added to the CEB’s losses. “It costs the CEB Rs. 22 to produce a unit of thermal power but we sell it to the consumers at Rs. 13. If we were to depend more on thermal power, then we have to increase the rates. Imposing power cuts is the best way to avoid passing the burden on to the consumers,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Water Board official said they had not decided on water cuts though water-levels in reservoirs were fast receding due to the drought.
Water Supply and Drainage Board General Manager Lal Premanath said sea water was seeping into the main rivers and this had become a major problem that could necessitate a cut in supplies.
Mr. Premanath asked the public to use water sparingly and avoid a crisis.