Electricity Consumers’ Association accuses Minister of sabotaging cheap solar power

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Sanjeewa Dhammika

By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

The secretary of the Electricity Consumers’ Association, Sanjeewa Dhammika said yesterday (11) that the government was planning to spend about Rs 40 billion on emergency power purchases in the coming three months.

Despite the government’s claims of promoting renewables, the Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera has presented a Cabinet paper seeking the cancellation of several proposed renewable energy projects that would have added 200 megawatts of power to the national grid, Dhammika said.

“A unit of electricity from renewable energy projects could have been purchased at 30 rupees,” he said.

Recently, Minister Wijesekera said there will be four-hour power cuts in four districts in Southern and Sabaragamuwa provinces if water from Samanalawewa is released for farming.

“We all know that in dry months, electricity made by hydropower reduces. What we then do is use more thermal power, and a unit of electricity produced using thermal sources costs over 100 rupees. So if the government covers 10 percent of its electricity needs from thermal sources, it will cost the country 40 billion. We also burn valuable foreign currency because we have to import more fossil fuel to generate thermal power,” he said.

Dhammika said that earlier this month, the Minister of Power and Energy presented a Cabinet paper seeking to cancel several renewable energy projects that were to add 200 megawatts of power to the national grid.

“A unit of electricity produced by these projects would have cost 30 rupees. These projects were to be implemented by local investors, and they had spent about two billion rupees on these projects. Most of these projects could have been connected to the national grid in 12 months. Now these local entrepreneurs are also worried,” he said.

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