LAHORE: As most of the country sizzles in scorching heat, national power shortfall soars beyond 6,000MW, necessitating loadshedding of over eight hours throughout the country and even more in the rural areas of the country – stoking protests in some areas.

The Ministry of Water and Power, however, sticks to its claim of being in complete control of the situation and carrying out six hours loadshedding in the cities and eight hours in rural areas, with no unscheduled loadshedding in any part of the country.

It concedes merely 3,614MW deficit even during peak hours. According to its figures, total national demand, excluding Karachi, peaked at 19,500MW against the generation of 15,886MW. As per its details, thermal sector generated some 9,900MW, hydle 4,850MW and wind 175MW.

But insiders of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), an entity that transmits power to cities, admit a deficit close to 6,000MW. According to them, the ministerial claim has three loopholes; exaggerated thermal generation, reduced demand and additional loadshedding in areas of high losses. All three reasons, especially the last one, are open to as much rigging as one wants to. “To begin with, thermal generation has never gone close to 10,000MW, as claimed by the ministry,” says an official of the company.

“It has historically been around 7,500MW. Where from 2,500MW have been added to the tally needs some explanation. The normal demand during such a high temperature is well over 21,000MW, which has been recorded in last few years, even if yearly increase is not taken into equation. The ministry’s calculation has at least 2,000MW hole. On top of both, the ministry claims to have been carrying out additional loadshedding in areas of high losses.

“It is not only additional loadshedding for high losses areas, but the ministry has also added another dimension – local problems, which are bound to happen in high temperature and could be used as an excuse for any load management,” says an official of Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco).

He said the supply of re-gassified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) had eased the situation a bit, but hike in temperature in May and drop in hydle generation (against its peak contribution of 6,600MW, it is now generating only 4,800MW) have neutralized the RLNG impact. “Though overall situation is not as panicky as it used to be in the last three summers, but it is not as controlled as being projected by the ministry,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2016

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