Rural communities in Sri Lanka make up approximately 40 percent of the republic’s population. Many of the people who live in the rural parts of Sri Lanka don’t have access to the power grid, but Hydro Tasmania Consulting has contracted with the Asian Development Bank to help change the situation.Hobart, Tasmania – July 26, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The $750,000 contract is part of the bank’s rural electrification project, which aims to help the Sri Lankan Government achieve its goal of connecting 80 per cent of its population the national electricity network by 2010. “Hydro Tasmania Consulting’s professionalism and expertise are being recognized more and more on the international stage,” General Manager of the consulting group Michael Brewster said. “This project will result in more people having access to electricity and will have tremendous benefits for villages in the less prosperous northern region of Sri Lanka.” Sri Lanka is approximately the size of Tasmania with a population of 20 million. The project will cover the country’s rural regions where there are 25,000 villages. Between 35 and 55 per cent of households in the villages are not connected to the grid. It is Hydro’s job to conduct a statistical analysis of the current problems facing Sri Lanka’s rural communities, and review the existing electrical infrastructure in the villages. They will also assess the current tariff structure and find ways to encourage more families that it is worthwhile to connect to the power grid. The consultation will start in August 2004 and is scheduled to end in April of 2005. The Asian Development Bank has successively provided funding for rural electrification in Sri Lanka since 1977 through its concessive loan/grant scheme. At that time, only 35 per cent of the country’s population had access to electricity. Over the last decade, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the national Government have placed a high priority on expansion of the national electricity network to reach most of the population. CEB has primarily been focusing on its ability to expand the national grid to an increasing number of villages in the countryside, and this has resulted in less attention to the actual percentage of households within each newly electrified village.