LAHORE: Lower power generation because of less hydel contribution and some state-owned power plants going off the grid because of faults, combined with hot and humid weather and perennial line losses, have pushed electricity shortfall up to 8,000MW, forcing the power distribution companies to observe around six-hour loadshedding in urban and over eight hours in rural areas across the country.
On the other hand, the water and power ministry says the situation may persist till peak hydel generation at the Mangla Dam that is expected to reach its maximum filling level and consequently its maximum generation by August 20.
“The situation worsened after some of our old power plants faced forced outages due to some technical faults that they develop time to time. This causes reduction in generation from 1,500MW to 1,800MW on average. Meanwhile, the maximum filling of Mangla reservoir, which normally completes by July or during initial days of August, didn’t happen, keeping generation lower to 5,100MW or so,” water and power ministry federal secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar told Dawn on Thursday. However, the situation improved a bit on Thursday, he claimed.
Six-hour outages in urban, eight hours in rural areas
Two days back, Mr Khokhar said, the power generation reduced to an alarming level below 15,000MW, while the demand jumped to over 24,000MW—the highest level in the ongoing summer so far.
“We are on the toes for the last 4/5 days, as shortfall widened a lot after a cut of 4,200MW caused by forced outages in some power plants, 1,500MW to 1,800MW owing to routine problems in the state-run generation companies/plants, around 1,500MW less generation by Mangla due to filling issues and less generation by Sahiwal coal-fired, Havaili Bahadur Shah and Balloki RLNG plants. This left us with no option but to increase scheduled loadshedding hours, in addition to forced loadshedding, due to various technical constraints of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) system,” he said.
For August, the authorities had already prepared a load management plan with three-hour loadshedding in urban and four-hour in rural areas. But after the situation deteriorated, the loadshedding had to be increased to five hours in urban and seven hours in rural areas.
On Thursday, the plan was revised envisaging four-hour loadshedding in urban and six-hour in rural areas across the country.
In Lahore, the situation worsened after various 132kV grid stations stopped functioning either due to overloaded 220kV system of the NTDC or some other technical faults, leaving the consumers without electricity for several hours daily.
“One of the three 40MVA transformers at 132kV Fatehgarh grid station collapsed, increasing loadshedding for many hours. However, we replaced the transformer within two days,” he claimed.
The secretary, however, hoped the situation would improve in coming days.
“By August 20, as stated by Wapda, the water level at Mangla reservoir will considerably improve and finally we will be able to have indents from the governments for further releases, leading to an increased generation up to over 6,500MW,” he maintained.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2017