Sri Lanka Tuesday launched an investigation into the power outage that affected the whole island on Monday, after a key power facility on the outskirts of capital Colombo faced technical problems.
The AFP news agency reported on Tuesday that Colombo had its electricity restored in seven hours, but some other parts of the country remained without power. The power outage caused traffic jams in Colombo, as traffic lights stopped operating, and water supply was impacted as pumps stalled without electricity.
According to Sri Lanka’s Power Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, the blackout was caused by a “technical issue” at the 300 MW capacity Kerawalapitiya power plant near Colombo around noon on Monday. After visiting the plant, Alahapperuma ordered his ministry to look into the outage and file a report within a week.
The oil-fired Kerawalapitiya power grid provides 50 per cent of Sri Lanka’s electricity supply, according to the spokesperson of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), the state-run electricity provider. CEB trade unions suggested that foul play could not be ruled out, the Colombo-based Daily News reported.
In Sri Lanka, half of the electricity supply comes from thermal power, and the remaining from wind and hydro power. The CEB chairperson said that the hydro power plants would be activated first and then the remaining plants as the nation went back to restoring power.
This is the second time in less than five years that the nation of 2.1 crore people has faced a complete power outage. In March 2016, a large system breakdown caused a blackout of over eight hours.
For decades, India and Sri Lanka have considered linking their power grids by constructing an ultra high voltage underwater HVDC line across the Palk Strait that separates the two countries. The connection would allow Sri Lanka to buy power from India during peak periods and export off-peak excess power in return.