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LAHORE: The Ministry of Energy (Power Division) has reached a consensus that three power plants — Saba, Sapphire and Hallmore -– should simultaneously be kept operational to avoid overloading at the 500kV Sheikhupura Grid Station that disturbs the 132kV power distribution system and causes long power breakdowns in Lahore.

The ministry is also of the view that the system constraints in the 500kV grid of National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) must be removed so that the power supply couldn’t affect even during scheduled outages of any of these three plants.

Keeping in view a massive increase in the consumers, the 500kV Sheikhpura and its 220kV circuit requires replacement of the low-capacity transformers with the new ones of 600MVA and 160MVA capacity and addition of some new ones. But the authorities concerned couldn’t accomplish the task before summer this year, according to official sources. Due to the system constraints identified already, the 500kV grid becomes overloaded whenever any of these three plants go on scheduled outages for maintenance purposes.

“We are aware of the issue and we will have to make some special dispensation to resolve this issue,” Federal Secretary (Power Division) Yousaf Naseem Khokhar told Dawn.

“In a recent meeting presided over by the state minister for power division, we discussed the issue in detail and decided that we will have to take steps in this regard,” he added.

The power division’s secretary said previously it was decided not to keep these furnace-oil based power plants operational since the electricity generated by these cost high than others. But whenever the government tried to do it, the 500kV and its 220kV circuit faced overloading. This finally led to affect the power distribution system in Lahore massively, leaving a huge number of consumers without electricity for hours because of 132kV grids’ tripping.

Mr Khokhar said the system constraints developed in the 220kV Ghazi grid had already been removed, giving a relief to the consumers. “We hope that system constraints in 500kV would also be removed soon. We are considering to keep these plants operational till removal of the system constraints in the 500kV grid station,” he added.

Talking to Dawn, an official source said that 220kV Sarfraz Nagar (Bhaipheru) grid also becomes overloaded whenever any of the plants feeding Lahore and its adjoining districts go on scheduled outages.

“Lahore faces problem from both north and south as the 500kV Sheikhupura and 220kV Sarfraz Nagar grid often become overloaded,” the official said. “So the permanent solution is to remove constraints in 500kV and 220kV system. And if there is any constraint in the 132kV distribution system, it should also be removed on war-footing basis,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2017