The Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB) request for a fresh electricity tariff hike has been rejected by the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL).
In a letter dated July 21, the CEB’s General Manager requested approval from the PUCSL for an immediate tariff hike. The CEB sought the tariff hike on the grounds that it is estimated to lose around Rs. 33 billion by the end of this year owing to the tariff reduction approved by the PUCSL for the second half of this year.
The CEB told the PUCSL that the reduction in its revenue would hinder the possibility of meeting additional expenditures for increased thermal power generation, increased demand and other essential expenditures.
The CEB said it would also impede its ability to settle the previous debt owed to renewable power producers and other suppliers.
The PUCSL, however, has rejected the CEB’s request for an immediate hike, pointing out that the CEB would actually have a surplus revenue amounting to Rs. 31.87 billion for the period from July to December this year.
“It is the Commission’s duty to ensure fairness in tariff for all stakeholders, including the consumers. Therefore, excessive revenue requested by the CEB is not fair and has no justification,” the PUCSL has said in its reply.
A senior CEB official told the Sunday Times that the Board did not calculate its earlier tariff taking into account the dry spell lasting up to four months. With the Met Department predicting that there would be no significant rainfall until at least September, the situation could become dire, warned the official. At present, hydropower generation has gone down to just 16% while 64% of power generation is through costly thermal power generation, the official pointed out.
If there are no rains by mid-September and the PUCSL continues to reject a tariff hike, there might be no option but to impose island-wide power cuts to manage the situation, the official warned.
A PUCSL source, however, rejected the CEB’s arguments, pointing to the Rs. 31 billion revenue surplus which the source claimed the CEB was sitting on.
Meanwhile, 17 opposition MPs have submitted a motion requesting the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to examine the electricity tariff hike affected earlier this year.
The MPs claim that the CEB’s revision of the tariff hike is in contravention of the PUCSL’s rules.