By Roy Silva
Cost on energy for the 700,000-odd street lamps is a
total loss to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), as
neither the local bodies nor the Treasury is meeting
those bills, says Patali Champika Ranawaka, Minister
of Power and Energy.
“Street lamps at present take about two to three per
cent of the total electricity consumption. Last
year, 2010, the cost of electricity for street lamps
was Rs. 2,700 million. But unfortunately, there’s
nobody to pay that money and it is a very serious
problem,” the Minister Ranawaka told The Nation.
It was also revealed that of the 700,000 street
lamps, almost 300,000 could be described as
‘unauthorised’ as they are not registered with the
CEB nor the Lanka Electricity Company (LECO).
“With new roads, bridges, expressways coming up and
the ongoing electrification projects in villages
where more and more street lamps are needed, the
number could very soon go up to one million street
lamps,” the minister pointed out.
In 1994, when the Ceylon Electricity Board was a
somewhat stable organisation, it had absorbed the
energy cost on street lamps and later the Treasury
had taken upon them to reimburse the cost. However,
that payment to the CEB had stopped due to their
financial restrictions. “The situation today is that
somehow we have to discuss this issue with the local
authorities,” the minister observed.
To overcome the problem at least to a certain
extent, the CEB has now introduced a new switch with
a timer that would switch the light on in the
evening and switch it off in the morning
“We have fixed some switches in the Peliyagoda area
and we have found that it could save about 30 per
cent on electricity. Another measure is that we can
replace the heavy cost old lamps by using new energy
efficient lamps and the efficiency could be improved
by 80 per cent for further reduction of cost and
energy,” said the minister.
It would certainly help the CEB because during 7:30
to 9:30 p.m., when the power consumption is at its
peak, the CEB is using heavy cost equipment to
supply energy. If the night peak could be reduced by
some means, it would help the CEB financially, the
Minister also commented on the hybrid kind of power
supply involving solar power plus the grid supply.
Solar power alone cannot provide a continuous supply
of energy, because the solar pilot projects have
failed due to rain and cloudy days. In the hybrid
system solar energy could be used, assisted by the
“There is a programme planned for the next three
years from 2012 to 2015 and we have requested the
South Korean government to support that project.
They have their own Green Energy funds and soft loan
packages. Basically Colombo and the suburbs would be
covered in the initial phase one. It would be a
financially viable project and the rate of return is
very good. We can use the South Korea technology and
in fact they installed Sri Lanka’s first ever
grid-connected solar plant in Hambantota,” the
Solar will actually reduce the country’s energy
bill, reduce foreign exchange outflow on fossil
fuels, and its clean and green energy. Initial cost
will be high but at the same time the maintenance
cost will be much less.