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LAHORE: The government has sought assistance from the leading energy experts in assessing the national load forecast, increase in generation and the situation of surplus production in order to devise an action plan for future needs in all sections - generation, transmission and distribution.

Dawn learnt that the decision to onboard the professionals was taken following various reports that show if power generation goes beyond the demand in the next couple of years, what strategy (based on realistic grounds) the government should adopt in upgrading the 500kV, 220kV, 132kV and 11kV transmission and distribution system that could absorb ‘surplus situation’. Or in case the generation remains less than the demand, what should be planned?

Sources say the national transmission and dispatch company (NTDC) - a subsidiary of the ministry of water and power - is set to hold a meeting in Lahore on Friday (May 26) with the experts in this regard. The meeting was earlier scheduled to be held on May 24 (Wednesday).

Meeting to assess load forecast and devise plan for future needs

According to a document, as many as 23 experts have agreed to attend the meeting that will be presided over by the NTDC managing director. Those who have confirmed their participation include Tahir Bisharat Cheema (former director general, Pepco), Khalid Mansoor (chief executive officer, Hubco), Naeem Qureshi from Energy Update Group, NA Zubairi (chief operating officer, CSAIL), Asim Riaz (senior research engineer, HDIP), Najeeb Ahmad (CEO, ABB Pakistan), Ashfaq Mehmood (ex-federal secretary, power ministry), Ahmad Najeeb (CEO, Albario Engineering), Farman Lodhi (business development manager, Engro Powergin Limited), Muhammad Tahir Ahmad (director general-corporate, PAEC), Misbahuddin (director, grid coordination, PAEC), Fozan Waheed (incharge business development, Descon Engineering), Abdul Vakil (COO, Siddique Sons Energy), Rehan Hamid (CEO, STDC), Waqar Ahmad Khan (CEO, Star Hydropower) and Gull Hassan Bhutto (corporate energy head, Omni Group).

The professionals, who have agreed to attend the meeting through video link/Skype, include Shah Jahan Mirza (managing director, PPIB), Muhammad Faisal Sharif (manager project appraisal, PPIB), Sultan Farooq Khan (director, MEConsult (pvt) Limited, Asad Mahmood (manager, NEECA), Zafar Sobani (Energy Update Group), Zeeshan A. Alam (deputy general manager, power generation (Orient Energy Systems) and Arif Qasim (director, MAQ International).

“It seems the government [NTDC] wants to build a consensus on the current and future load forecast, generation expansion, surplus situation besides strengthening the transmission and distribution system side by side,” commented one of the experts invited to the meeting.

“And if the participants and the NTDC officials reach a consensus that the generation may exceed the demand, the situation will be troublesome,” he said.

The expert said it [surplus production] would burden the economy if all power plants continue to run and where the surplus electricity would be used?

“And in case the government keeps some of them idle [to balance the demand and supply], it would have to bear cost of transmission that would be shifted to users,” he added.

He said various studies were conducted in the past regarding the issue. One of the studies was conducted by a Canadian firm last year. “But all studies don’t match findings of each other.”

“So it is need of the hour to have some solid analysis to devise a reality-based action plan with input of the experts from both public and private sector,” he said.

Another expert claimed that the senior government officials were of the view that the generation might exceed the demand in future keeping in view the commissioning of various power plants one by one.

“So the main issue is with the NTDC system that is unable to absorb the total generation as it needs to be upgraded on a war footing,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2017