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LAHORE: Electricity shortfall surged to about 6,500MW on Saturday night, forcing all distribution companies (Discos) to resort to nearly five-hour forced power outages in addition to the scheduled loadshedding of six hours in urban and eight hours in rural areas across the country.

The shortfall, according to official sources, increased after about 10 state-owned and independent power producers stopped accumulative power generation of over 1,400MW either due to ‘annual maintenance’ or technical fault and 600MW less generation at Tarbela added to the routine shortfall of 4,000 to 5,000MW against the total peak demand of 21,000MW recorded on Saturday night.

The problem, which might persist for three to four days, hit several districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular and Sindh and Balochistan in general. “Had we avoided doing forced loadshedding during such a critical situation, the system would have collapsed. So in this case we saved the system,” National Transmission and Despatch Company General Manager (National Power Control Centre-NPCC) Mr Ilyas Ahmed told Dawn on Sunday.

Forced outages may persist for three to four days

The plants that developed technical fault or went on annual maintenance included a unit of Hubco, Muzaffargarh, Guddu, Kapco, Liberty, Engro, Halmore and Lakhra, he added.

According to water and power ministry, the higher demand due to heatwave even in October and technical outages of few units of IPPs and Gencos is being managed by the distribution companies through effective monitoring and other measures.

“The unprecedented heatwave in October has increased power demand,” reads a statement issued by a ministry’s spokesman. Further some units of IPPs and Gencos have gone into unforeseen technical outages resulting in lesser power generation to the tune of 1,260MW.

“The power plants units which are on forced outages due to unforeseen technical faults include Hubco unit-4 (300MW), Liberty (200MW), Engro (200MW), Muzzafargarh Unit-3 (180MW), Lakhra (30MW), Halmore (200MW) and Guddu-747 (150MW),” the statement said, adding the hydel generation in September and October is already low as compared to August due to lower releases from dams on demand of provinces.

Owing to these reasons the average demand and supply gap increased from 4,000MW to above 5,000MW. The repair work on units of IPPs and Gencos is already in progress and efforts are being made to bring these units online as soon as possible.

“To save the system, the NPCC may conduct unannounced loadshedding in some areas if the electricity demand further rises,” the statement says.

The NTDC GM said the system received 600MW less electricity from the total hydel generation after lowering of indent for Tarbela by Indus River System Authority.

A Wapda statement said all hydel stations had been functional and generating electricity according to water outflows as per Irsa’s indent.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2016