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LAHORE: The chief minister has asked the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) to make Lahore free from forced or routine loadshedding.

Shahbaz Sharif chaired a meeting convened to discuss Muharram arrangements where the focus turned to forced or scheduled loadshedding in the city, said an official source privy to the meeting.

Also, the Ministry of Water and Power is seeking approval from the cabinet committee on energy (CCE) for placing the four thermal power plants of around 750MW under a ‘Must Run’ category. The plants feed Lahore and some adjoining areas through 500kV / 220kV Sheikhpura grid station being operated by the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC). The operation of these plants is technically vital to keep the 500kV/200kV system stable keeping in view various system constraints.

For the last couple of months, Lahore and Sheikhpura have been facing forced shutdowns or load management whenever Saphire, Hallmore and Saba plants go on scheduled shutdown.

Also, these thermal plants have not been operational for many days after the government stopped getting generation for their high-cost supply.

NTDC’s 500kV grid station and its 220kV circuit, which are supposed to feed Lahore and Sheikhpura have yet to be upgraded, as their glitches cause overloading whenever any of these plants stop working. Whenever it happens, the 500kv and 220kV systems become overloaded, overburdening the distribution system and stopping the operation of 20 132kV grid stations in Lahore and 15 in Shiekhupura.

“The issue is in the knowledge of the ministry, and senior officials will present it in the upcoming meeting of the CCE to get permission to place the plants under a ‘Must Run’ category,” the official added.

He said under a plan, the NTDC would upgrade its 500kV/220kV grid in Sheikhpura in a month.

The official said that the 10 days of Muharram mourning remained critical for Lesco for it supplied uninterrupted power supply to hundreds of imambargahs and dozens of Muharram related mourning processions.

“The only way to get rid of the problem (of loadshedding) is upgrad of the 500kv/220kV system,” he argued.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2017