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Load shedding: No end in sight?

Published May 22, 2013 03:48pm


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Summer is peaking in most parts of Pakistan, and with the unyielding heat comes renewed promises of ending load shedding for once and for all.

But as everyone knows, the energy crisis Pakistan is facing can’t be solved with a magic wand. The power sector itself is corrupt, inefficient and badly managed.

The circular debt is also a problem that prevents electricity from being restored in the suffering public’s homes. Consumers, including the public, the government, and private companies all owe huge sums of money to electricity distribution companies.

The newly-elected government knows, if from nothing else than from its own election by the people, that load shedding was the key issue for voters, and the downfall of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

As a result, Nawaz Sharif has already held a meeting to address the issue. His brother, Shahbaz has said that load shedding will end in two years, a task which most say is impossible if looking at the grave and deep-rooted nature of the problem.

In the meanwhile, the caretaker power minister announced the caretaker government’s decision to inject Rs 22 billion into the power sector, to provide some much needed relief. At the same time, he admitted that this was at best a stop-gap measure, which wasn’t doing anything to address the energy crisis in the long run.

Soon after that, the Chinese premier announced that China and Pakistan should make cooperate on power generation as a priority, while visiting Pakistan on Wednesday. The detail of this ‘cooperation’ is yet to be revealed.

What is also certain is that certain painful decisions will have to be taken to resolve the crisis – including raising prices, which may not be the most popular choice but is apparently necessary.

What do you think the government can do to resolve the energy crisis on an urgent basis? If long term measures such as building dams and using coal reserves are an option, what do you appropriate sources of funding? Is international support in terms of loans a good thing or a bad thing? Do you support the idea of higher prices of electricity if it means it brings an end to the energy crisis in the long run? invites its readers to share its views.


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Comments (22) Closed

Ali May 22, 2013 01:29pm
Everyone would be willing to pay the price if it is guaranteed to be a fair one. It must not be inflated due to corruption, line losses and theft. People will be willing to pay the real price.
Mujaahid May 22, 2013 02:31pm
What do you think the government can do to resolve the energy crisis on an urgent basis? You asked! Government can't do nothing, It is intelligent Pakistani entrepreneur's who will come to the rescue, or as it is known "necessity is the mother of invention". Lets go. What happens If you connect 10 truck batteries, you have enough electricity for a normal house hold. Now to get this pack recharge, Build a small Thermodynamic generator/motor focusing a laser beam of burning Sun via convex lens, lenses rotating/aligning with the motion of sun whole year. And besides! Solution is in "the Shit" Excreta of man and animal produces huge amounts of methane (huge problem within-itself being a green house gas). If we can/should in our urban areas manage our shit properly we will have enough natural gas to have fire, fuel for everything and it is Green. And Lastly have you ever heard of Geothermal power plants. Iceland produces free electricity, free for costumers, freeing the planet mother Earth. You have my email address drop me a call, gonna need some cash! why not? But you won't! because then from where meter reader going to get bribe, Saudi royal oil they can fill there swimming pools with it, what about lineman etc. No, No, No all this fuss is about keeping common folks in invisible chains.
Shah May 22, 2013 12:26pm
Encourage people to shift to LED lights from CFL bulbs & remove duties or even subsidise if possible solar panels in the domestic market. Start a nationwide drive for people to produce a certain percent of their own electricity requirements on their own rooftops. This will take some load off the national grid, if that 22 bn had gone this way, we'd be able to save more than what that much can generate being spent on outdated thermal power. Unless fuel theft & the "line losses" are checked it'll be practically impossible to expect the already oppressed law abiding minority bill payers to pay ever more for the inefficiencies of the govt. & the indifference of the thieving masses.
Rafay Bin Ali May 22, 2013 11:08am
YES. But all the extra money should be used for the good cause. I support this whole heartedly for the sake of Pakistanis and our future generations.
Khanzada May 22, 2013 11:49am
Why can't the Government force consumers to ration on their consumption of electricity in a manner which will allow more even distribution of power load and reduce the need for so much loadshedding? Each house's meter should have a maximum monthly consumption allocation and once it is crossed then the power is disconnected i.e. cap the usage to prevent people from wasting too much power with too many AC's and wasteful consumption. In order to restore the consumption the user would have to pay a penalty fine.
abdussamad May 22, 2013 11:22pm
Who will pay for line losses, corruption and theft? The tooth fairy? In the end it is always the consumer or the tax payer who bears the burden. You can have higher electricity prices or higher inflation. Take your pick!
abdussamad May 22, 2013 11:26pm
Electricity prices will have to go up 40-50% just so that the electricity companies can break even. To clear the circular debt and raise funds for investment prices will have to go up even further! Anyway there is no point in kicking the can down the road. We should have higher prices.
Agha Ata (USA) May 23, 2013 12:57am
The present situation of energy is caused by inefficiency and gross negligence of the government. Why should poor public pay for that?
Yawar May 23, 2013 01:50am
Put an immediate stop to electricity theft by rewarding informers and locking up perpetrators and fining them heavily. At the same time raise the price of electricity such that the first x kilowatt-hours per capita used will cost the lowest, the next set of kilowatt-hours will cost a little more, and so on and so on.
Shahbaz May 23, 2013 03:21am
All the problems we are facing as a nation are only due to the the negligence of our leaders. No one took this problem on a long run. There is no doubt that Govt. can resolve this problem if appropriate measures are adopted. i would rather support a rapid development on the long term measures like developing Dams as this would also help us in mitigating the water shortage and loss of water as this is also ruining our agriculture turning our lands into barren. Dams are the only appropriate option otherwise working on other sources of energy production may resolve our energy crises but neglecting construction of water reservoirs would trigger the problem of food security in the next coming years of our country. All the issue must be addressed with good and positive intentions otherwise the problems will be deepened with the passage of time.
Xulf May 23, 2013 03:43am
Pay for more corruption? more ineptitude?? No way..even now with this loadshedding one would think that bills would be slashed but no way.. So if thats the direction the policy makers are planning to go they would have a thing coming their way!!
M B Jawwad May 23, 2013 05:52am
If Shahbaz Sharif, in a unilogue to the nation, instead of zealously specifying the time period for the decline of the loadshedding, suggests a realistic and specific approach to the goal, the nation might, and most probably will, unite to work together on bringing this curse down and lightening up Pakistan again, if not for the first time in our history e.g. enlightening the people on importance of shifting to LED lights. A million Dollar advertisement on the subject might not have the same effect as the government's request from the people to help themselves.
jaffri May 23, 2013 05:55am
Energy crisis needs redical reforms. Government has to declare that it is not responsibility of goverment to provide energy to consumers. Rather government's responsibility is restricted to regulating business of providing energy to customers. This principal leads to desolution of WAPDA act and opens way to private production and distribution of energy. Its price will be determined by market forces. Experience of ex communist countries shows that market oriented reforms eradicate shortages
chassu May 23, 2013 06:51am
absolutely not! I am sick and tired of paying for corruption and incompetence of the institutions under the guise of necessary steps for reforms!
kalam May 23, 2013 09:23am
I come from a rather remote village near Peshawar. Over the past fifteen to twenty years, observing my neighborhood, nine out of ten households either do not have a meter at all, or have a meter but pay a monthly bill of not more than four to six hundred rupees per month. Make no mistake, that almost every second house has air conditioners and in addition, they use electric heaters for cooking. The load on transformers is sometime is so heavy, that it breaks down and then the same people go out, block the roads and protests against local DESCO. The transformers, of course, are fixed eventually and the cycle goes on. The whole local politics is played around transformers and electricity bills by local "Khans" and based on this the poor man makes up his mind for whom to cast his vote next time. At the same time, the Khans, most of them happens to be my first cousins, have an electric meter for the reason that they have to submit it to election commission for next local or national elections. Otherwise, they are not any different from any poor or middle class of my village. I do not blame the federal government, nor do I blame WAPDA, DESCO or any party for the current situation. Its a "Karma" of how everything that goes around comes around in life. You can make comprehensive plans for energy crises, but as long as you can not make convince people to pay for what the services they receive, all this is not going anywhere. I pay electricity bill up to six thousand rupees a month, I have a generator which costs a fortune every month, a UPS that needs maintenance on a bi-weekly basis. I want to get rid of my generator and UPS, since its costs hell more than 15 rupees per unit and I am willing to pay more, but I don't want to pay for my whole neighborhood, and not for my cousins and not for the poor man who uses heaters for cooking. I am not sure how to conclude, but we all have a Mr. 10% inside us to the extent of our authority over public funds. I remain cynical for now about all this.
chait83 May 23, 2013 04:49pm
Dude get realistic .. You are talking like 5th grade kid
G.A. May 23, 2013 03:22pm
People of Pakistan have already paid for this. How about seizing assets of these corrupt officials and selling them off to pay for this instead of taxing the people over and over again.
Yasir May 23, 2013 11:03pm
And there I was eagerly anticipating the Bullet trains. Pakistan is home to the Thar coal reserves which are apparently the 6th largest in the world and can meet energy needs for centuries. Pakistan could easily utilise these until more sustainable solutions are found, environmental friendliness would be the least of concerns for now. So it's still completely mind boggling why nothing substantial is being done in this regard. I suspect something more sinister is going with those who have been voted to power. Why would they care? Their air conditioning is on 24/7
Adnan Latif May 24, 2013 06:09am
I use solar hybrid system for office. It has reduced electricity bill by more than 50% and has resulted in reduction in the size of the UPS batteries. I took a number of other measures to cut down on electricity usage as well such as: efficient ceiling fans, LED lights, energy saving measures on computers, etc. There is plenty of sunshine in Pakistan and we should make solar energy a part of our energy mix.
Ziauddin May 24, 2013 07:02am
Unless electricity theft is stopped, and current usage is properly billed and collection enforced, this "crisis" is unsolvable. For once, Pakistanis should accept personal responsibility and understand that there is a downside to the selfish culture that pervades our society. We don't pay either taxes or utility bills but are incensed when public services don't work. Corruption exacerbates this awful situation because leaders are a product of the same me-first society. We need investment in electricity generation to triple production over the next decade. This requires capital, and investment capital requires an adequate return. Before we discuss raising rates, let's have a grown-up discussion on how we can collect current rates.
AR May 24, 2013 08:14am
give maximum power to the DISCOS or Feeders where there is no line losses/theft and maximum load shedding where line losses/theft is norm.
Qammar Sohail May 24, 2013 09:36am
I think,We have to use our coal , wind and other resources to curb the loadsheding.This is the main hurdle in the progress of Pakistan.If we doesn't take any action against this isuue then what we would shift to our coming generation.We can't face the world until we make policies to mitigate loadsheding.We are going to fall due to loadsheding because it directly affects our economy and creat Unemployement,Terrorism,Uncertainty,lawlessness...etc.