By Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya
Tudor Wijenayake appears to have written the above column, without any deep knowledge, understanding or research on the power sector.
Every person on the street has an opinion on how to produce electricity. If anybody can design and manage an electric power system, do not struggle to get your children or grandchildren to study engineering, because you can actually do power engineering work yourself. Anybody can run an electric power system!
I only want to point out the factual position on two items, out of many he has got totally wrong. He says: “The CEB is the biggest loss-making organisation in the country, which lost Rs. 30.4 billion in 2018, while billing the customers with the highest electricity charges in South-East Asia.”
(1) Can CEB make profits?
Look at the summary in table 1, extracted from the ‘Tariff Decision’ of PUCSL for 2018 (January to June)
So the approved cost of producing and delivering a unit of electricity is Rs. 23.32 as of January 2018. Who says so? PUCSL.
The income from selling a unit of electricity at PUCSL approved price structure is Rs. 17.26 per unit. Who says so? PUCSL.
Who asks more electricity to be purchased at Rs. 22.50 from solar parks and solar rooftops? PUCSL.
Who asks the electricity so purchased at Rs. 22.50 to be sold at Rs. 17.26 per unit? PUCSL.
When the approved cost is Rs. 23.32 and being told to sell at Rs. 17.26, tell us Wijenayake, tell us, how to make profits.
(2) Billing the customers with the highest electricity charges in South-East Asia
Wijenayake needs to do some homework, study the electricity price structure all over in South East Asia. He will surely be bewildered by the diversity in pricing and definitions of different customer types. However, I have done my homework, and I did decode the tariffs, and here is the comparison of electricity prices across South and South-east Asia and beyond. So, tell us Wijenayake, tell us. Which country charges the highest price for electricity? Surely your answer will not be one word, such as “Sri Lanka”! I only hope that the new Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy does not read the Daily FT to see the wrong data given by Wijenayake (and goes on repeating it at every seminar she attends). Incidentally, power meaning electricity is a subset of energy. Even a school boy knows that. A Ministry of Power and Energy is equivalent to having a ‘Ministry of Landlines and Telecommunication’!
Our Secretary to the President, who baptises ministries, has forgotten his O/L science. It should have been plain and simply ‘Ministry of Energy’. That says it all.