ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday announced a loadshedding plan for urban and rural areas where power cuts for six to eight hours a day will be applied to residential and commercial localities, while a separate electricity load management plan might also be out in the peak season for the industrial sector.

However, loadshedding for more than the scheduled hours would be applied to the areas with low recoveries and high losses, said the Ministry of Water and Power after a week-long consultation with distribution companies under the ex-Wapda network.

Electricity demand is anticipated to increase by between 600 and 800 megawatts this year and will offset an increase in power generation, but better expected availability from the hydropower resources this year will help improve supply to the industrial sector, according to an official.

He said the power supply had peaked at 16,800MW last year and would go well beyond 17,000MW this summer due to the improved transmission system. “With better management, system improvements and addition of new generation, the power sector is prepared to provide electricity in the summer to the domestic, commercial and industrial consumers with a countrywide load management schedule of six hours in urban areas, eight hours in rural and zero loadshedding in the industrial sector,” said a statement issued by the power ministry.

But a separate load management plan might be introduced for the industrial sector for the peak summer months, said the ministry.

It explained that the areas where the recoveries were up to the mark and losses were within the permissible limit, loadshedding hours would remain predictable and within the announced schedule of six to eight hours a day.

“However, in areas where the losses are greater and recoveries are lower, the ministry has chalked out a special load management plan,” it stated. For this, a percentage-wise schedule for each and every 11kv feeder has been issued across the country based on recoveries and losses, whereby high loss/theft areas will be subjected to loadshedding for more than eight hours.

This strategy has been devised keeping in view the principle of equity in terms of recoveries and losses. “Responsible consumers should have less number of loadshedding hours as compared to the non-payers or those involved in power theft,” said the power ministry. An official, however, conceded that some honest consumers in a specific area could suffer because of high loss/theft and less recoveries by others.

The power ministry directed all the distribution companies to prominently display updated data of each and every feeder along with loss and recovery status at their circle offices, subdivision offices and complaint centres in all cities for public awareness along with the loadshedding hours. It said an effort had been made to make it possible for consumer groups of a particular feeder to adjust their loadshedding hours by paying their bills and assist their distribution companies to act against power theft.

The government, the ministry said, had already introduced amendments to the anti-power theft law, making a provision for arrest without warrant besides other stringent penalties against those involved in power theft. It said the ministry’s complaint cells would work round the clock to address public complaints.

The statement claimed that as compared to 60 per cent use of power capacity availability in 2013, the expected generation this summer would be around 85 per cent of the generation capacity. The ministry also appealed to the consumers to adopt energy conservation that could lead to save around 1,500MW and substantially reduce loadshedding hours.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2016