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Discos, NTDCL projects may be included in CPEC

Updated February 13, 2017

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LAHORE: Several projects of power distribution companies (Discos) and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company Limited (NTDCL) are likely to be made part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in future as a joint working group comprising senior officials from the two countries is working on the plan.

Details about the functions and scope of work of Discos and the NTDCL and their mega projects planned to be completed over next five years have been shared with the Chinese in various sessions of a high-level meeting held in Islamabad a couple of days ago, it is learnt.

Official sources said that none of the electricity transmission- and distribution-related projects, except one, had become part of the CPEC so far and the government felt that these were necessary to be completed for smooth transmission, dispatch and distribution in parallel with various under-construction and future power generation projects with the financial support of China.

“Some days ago, the water and power ministry asked top officials of two Discos — Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) and Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) — and the NTDCL to rush to Islamabad and brief the CPEC’s working group on their companies’ role, scope of work, future projects, etc. The purpose of sharing such details at the meeting was to make the Chinese aware of the electricity transmission and distribution system since they didn’t know at all about Discos. They only briefly knew about the NTDCL,” says a senior official who attended the meeting.

Under the CPEC, China has so far pledged to fund NTDCL’s $2.1 billion Matiari-Lahore transmission line project. The 878km-long 660 kilovolt high voltage direct current line project will help smooth evacuation and transmission of 4,000MW of electricity in future.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, the official said that since Lesco and Iesco had been selected on behalf of all Discos to participate in the meeting, their chief executive officers also shared a five-year development plan of their companies that included several projects relating to new or upgrade of secondary transmission grids —132kV transmission lines and grids — and 11kV power distribution lines and feeders.

Similarly, NTDCL officials discussed various future projects of 500kV and 220kV transmission lines and grid stations with the joint working group.

“Actually a major portion (over $35bn) of the total CPEC’s chunk ($54bn) has been allocated for the energy sector. And still huge money of the total energy sector’s funding under the CPEC is yet to be allocated or utilised. That is why the government requested the Chinese to also make projects of Discos and NTDCL part of the CPEC,” the official said.

He said that by having such details, the Chinese had assessed the overall performance of Discos related to recovery, line losses, capacity and ability to pay back within the stipulated time frame the funds if provided to them under the CPEC as soft loan.

The official said the projects of about Rs80bn had been shared by Lesco and Iesco with the Chinese during the meeting. And if they agreed, the total funding might be Rs200bn for all Discos, including Rs80bn for Lesco and Iesco, he added.

Published in Dawn February 13th, 2017