Sri Lanka gambling on monsoon onset to avoid power cuts

May 8, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has not yet discussed power cuts, a senior government minister said as hydro storage at the country’s state run power utility ran towards a critical level which may trigger compulsory load shedding.

CEB now has an installed thermal capacity of 1250MW and 1,100MW of hydro capacity.

However the full installed thermal capacity is not available all the time, usually about 900 to 1000MW can be connected, officials say.

Sri Lanka’s day-time peak is just over 1200MW and can be met with thermal supplemented by hydro. Limiting hydro use in day-time to use for night peaking is further hampered by water supply and irrigation needs of the country.

The night peak is now around 1,750MW. This is lower than the level generally observed early last year of around 1,800MW officials say.

Gamble

The month of May marks the onset of the main monsoon season of the island. Power consumers outside central Colombo have already been noticing outages.

Power analysts say authorities are now gambling on a quick onset of the monsoon to avoid official power cuts.

Authorities are reluctant to cut power because it is a tacit admission that the power monopoly has been mis-managed by t