PM Slams CEB Top Management At Closed Door Meeting At Temple Trees

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe slammed the CEB's top management at a meeting held at the Temple Trees on Monday saying the institution's top official should pull their socks up and work.

Before addressing the meeting, the Prime Minister examined a report on circumstances leading to the all island power failure.

The report was prepared by Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen GmbH (GR), a German company active in power engineering and consists of over 25 subsidiaries and affiliated companies globally.

The company, as per a request by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), carried out a comprehensive investigation on the exploded transformers at Biyagama and Kotugoda leading to a blackout two weeks ago.

The company’s experts conducted their investigations at the two camps on March 22 and 23. Then they handed over their report to the CEB for further action. However, the CEB did not show any inclination to present this report to the government for obvious reasons.

The report highlighted some serious shortcomings and negligence on the part of the CEB and it was quite clear that the CEB did not want to give it “much publicity”.

The report said, “the reason for the explosion is that the oil within the On Load Tap Changer (OLTC) compartments were highly contaminated with moisture, hence poor quality oil caused the insulating bars to deteriorate and caused the flashover.

You will observe the experts have concluded – water content in oil was between 53 and 71 ppm, maximum permissible value is 30 ppm. The oil quality was good after oil exchange last year on all three transformers, thus a systematic error caused the fast deterioration of oil.

“We have currently observed that 135 transformers are in operation, which have not been maintained and serviced as per our standard recommendations

We have been recommending the CEB to carry out regular maintenance from the first installed OLTC.

The latest available records prove that on February 18, 2009, we have recommended maintenance to be carried out on the exploded transformers at Kotugoda and Biyagama

We have been constantly reminding the CEB to carry out maintenance on priority basis but the CEB had not taken action citing “lack of funds”. In the event the above maintenance had been carried out, the explosions would not have occurred.

On April 24, 2015, we have once again recommended the CEB to carry out maintenance on another 14 “crucial” transformers in the Colombo city area, which are yet to be performed.

“With our detailed technical report following our investigations, we are recommending maintenance and upgrading to be carried out in 135 functioning transformers (which include Kotugoda and Biyagama transformers as well)

Among the, there are approximately 30 to 40 transformers which are in critical stages and need immediate attention.

However, the rest of the transformers too, require maintenance and upgrading, as those too have passed the recommended maintenance intervals.”

When the Prime Minister read this report, he was livid at the fact that the CEB was ‘suppressing it’. Probably, the Prime Minister was of the view that the government was paying a political price unnecessarily for the CEB’s lethargy and negligence.

He immediately summoned a meeting with the top management of the CEB and its General Manager and the Ministry Secretary arrived at the Temple Trees in 15 minutes.

As they walked into the meeting room, the two officials looked pale as they sensed some trouble.

The Prime Minister, while speaking to the officials, said in no uncertain terms that the CEB officials should do their “homework” to address real issues in the power and energy sector. It was quite clear that the Prime Minister was referring to the content of the two-page report.

The officials seemed crestfallen when the Prime Minister asked them to ‘pull their socks up’ and work without looking for easy escape-routes, highly placed government sources said.

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