If the government had not completed the 300 MW Kerawalapitiya electricity generation plant by 2008, Sri Lanka would have experienced a major power crisis with constant power cuts by 2009. The cost of the plant is around US $ 300 million and the government assures that there would be no power cuts in 2009. The plant is scheduled to be commissioned at the end of this month.
The Kerawalapitiya power plant will generate 200 MW under its first phase and add it to the National Grid and in the second phase it will generate the other 100 MW in 2009, the Power and Energy Ministry said.
Power and Energy Minister W.D.J.Seneviratne told The Island Financial Review that the kerawalapitiya Combined Circle power-generation plant was the first of its kind using furnace oil at the first stage and at the second stage it would use liquid gas and steam. 90 per cent of Sri Lankan engineers had laboured to construct the plant with the assistance of American technical know-how.
He pointed out that the government had planned to impose intermittent power cuts in 2009 as the Victoria, Mahaweli and Luxapana plants were unable to meet the growing demands of electricity. The addition of 300 MW to the National Grid by the Kerawalapitiya plant would avert the power crisis in the country. The government could complete the construction and operational aspects of the plant within one year s time because the operation of the plant to avert the looming power crisis was the priority.
Minister Seneviratne cautioned that had the successive governments drawn constructive policy formulation to develop the power and energy sector there would have been no looming power crises in Sri Lanka. As the existing reservoirs were not capable of generating the required amount of electricity demands the government was constrained to use costly fuel to operate some major electricity generation plants. The CEB was running at a loss because the expenditure on fuel to commission the power generation plants was extremely high.
Minister Seneviratne said that the kerawalapitiya plant would be fully capable of generating 300 MW and 200 MW would be generated at the first phase. The plant would be capable of generating the other 100 MW at the beginning of 2009. According to engineers, the plant had been designed to utilized low cost oil and would be converted to LNG within few years.
When asked about the closure of Kelanitissa power generation plant due to high expenditure, Minister Seneviratne said that it was true that the government had been expending a great of money to commission the Kelanitissa power plant because the diesel consumption was extremely high. The government would not close down the plant and an alternative source of energy would be introduced to commission the plant. Although the government was compelled to spend a substantial amount of money for fuel, power supply to consumers, industrial complexes, domestic use and rural electrification schemes would go ahead.