CEB Archives — LIRNEasia


That was the title of the two-hour TV talk show at ITN that I participated in yesterday. One does not expect new knowledge to emerge from a talk show, but this one was an exception. Illuminating information was disclosed by the Additional General Manager of the Ceylon Electricity Board in response to some statements I made. The disclosures can be seen in the Daily FT and Ravaya in a few days. Here below is my conclusion.
The nationwide unplanned outage last Sunday has obviously got everyone upset. While some are trying to make political capital out of it, the responsible thing to do is to understand the causes and act to avoid a recurrence. This appeared to be the objective of the reporter who interviewed me last week for this article. There is one place where the report does not exactly reflect what I said. I was asked whether I was happy with CEB’s /PUCSL’s role.
I had been invited to moderate a panel discussion on consumer rights in electricity, in the context of a recently issued charter of consumer rights and obligations. This was set to be a ho-hum affair, until the country experienced its third nationwide blackout within the last six months. This resulted in the shutdown of the 900 MW coal-powered plant, which means that the system will be in distress for 4-5 days until they get it fired up again. Since 2002, Sri Lankans have got used to uninterrupted power which they pay a lot. There is a lot of anger.
During its workshop for the electricity sector stakeholders in Sri Lanka, back in February 2014, LIRNEasia spoke about the possibility of using SMS for communicating with its customers. At the time we spoke about informing consumers about planned and unplanned power outages. This is currently being deployed by LECO and selected CEB distribution licencees. It appears the CEB has gone a step further and now intends to inform its consumers of impending disconnections to their electricity supply. The publicity for this service was seen in the weekend newspapers.
Would the prepaid model used for mobile phones services, do well in electricity? Will it benefit the poor? How will it benefit? Would it benefit CEB and LECO? Rohan Samarajiva is giving insight and answers to all these questions in  these articles here (in English) and here (Sinhala) Every month CEB and LECO produce and distribute close to five million paper bills.
Earlier this year, LIRNEasia provided formal inputs to the public hearing on the electricity tariffs held by the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL). None of our recommendations were reflected in the outcome of that process, but we were happy to see subsequent actions by the PUCSL reflecting them. We were also pleased to see some of our ideas reflected in a speech by the Leader of the Opposition. The recent report indicating that the Ceylon Electricity Board has not only eliminated losses, but has shown profits appears to indicate that our predictions were right: d. The cost models that underlie the tariff proposal are based on assumptions of levels of use that may change because of the radical redesign of the tariff structure.