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News  


 

Street lamps, nobody’s baby

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 automatically.
“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 noted.
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 national grid.
“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 minister revealed.
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.