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Fishy wind power deal reaches new heights

The cabinet of ministers appears to have been misled by parties with vested interests over a controversial wind power deal that has been awarded to an Indian energy company which will come up in Puttalam.

The Nation reliably learns that the cabinet has granted approval for the controversial 50 MW wind power plant project to Enercon India Power Development Limited, despite a 10-member project committee comprising the CEB, BOI, CEA and the National Planning Department rejecting the Indian company.

However, the 10-member committee’s recommendation had been sidelined and the authorities had instead claimed that they have obtained the opinion of a solitary ‘independent expert’ who has approved the company’s proposal.

The 10-member committee had highlighted that the Indian company’s proposal was one which was both unsolicited and uncompetitive as well as very high in cost with regard to their charges per unit of electricity and therefore if the bid is open for more companies to tender their interests, Sri Lanka is very likely to get a better deal which will also be economically viable.

Meanwhile, the powerful Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) has instructed all its members to boycott all activities, including taking part in any committees of the controversial project.

In a letter sent out to all its members dated November 15, the union has said, “You are kindly requested to refrain from participating in any sort of activity/work related to the unsolicited/noncompetitive proposal of the Enercon India 50 MW wind power project at Puttalam, which is being pushed by higher authorities with vested interests.” The letter was signed by the CEBEU President and Secretary.

According to the union, it is believed that someone has misled the cabinet of ministers into approving this unsolicited, noncompetitive proposal, which carries long-term adverse effects.

“In certain years the tariff is as high as Rs. 24.14 per unit, which will also be paid in US dollars. Had a competitive bidding process been followed rather than pursuing this unsolicited single proposal, a much better deal could have been achieved for the poor people of this country,” the engineers emphasised.

According to the agreement, Sri Lanka will pay the Indian company 13 US cents per kilowatt for the first six years, 7 US cents per kilowatt for the next nine years and 5 US cents per kilowatt for the remaining five years during the 20-year long contract period.

By Munza Mushtaq

The Nation

25 November 2007