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Regulator imposes Rs5m fine on NTDC

November 28, 2017

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National Transmission and Despatch Company violated the permissible voltage and frequency limits in 2013-14, according to the power regulator. The company has gone to the Supreme Court against the penalty.
National Transmission and Despatch Company violated the permissible voltage and frequency limits in 2013-14, according to the power regulator. The company has gone to the Supreme Court against the penalty.

ISLAMABAD: Concluding lengthy legal proceedings, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) imposed on Monday a fine of Rs5 million on National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) for its failure to maintain voltage and frequency levels across Pakistan, causing damages to consumers.

The fine was imposed under Nepra (Fines) Rules 2002 due to the non-compliance of Perfor­mance Standards Transmission Rules 2005, particularly with respect to voltage and frequency fluctuations.

Being a transmission licensee, NTDC is required to submit an annual performance report (APR) to Nepra as per the performance standards and terms and conditions of its licence.

Based on the APR submitted by NTDC, a comprehensive analysis report was prepared by the regulator.

The analysis highlighted that NTDC had prima facie violated the permissible voltage and frequency limits in 2013-14.

On the basis of the findings, Nepra decided to initiate legal proceedings against NTDC.

An explanation was called from NTDC in July 2015, which led to the issuance of a formal show-cause notice in February 2016. Hearings into the matter were conducted in August 2016 and April this year.

Company failed to maintain voltage, frequency levels

The authority observed that the data submitted by NTDC in its APR revealed that the company deviated from the permissible voltage limits, which resulted in the voltage profile of as low as 180 kilo volt and 170kV instead of the nominal voltage of 220kV at Sibbi and Quetta grid stations, respectively.

The similar level of voltages was also noted at other grid stations in different areas of the country. Furthermore, violations regarding voltage limits’ variation showed an increase of 13 per cent in 2013-14 over the previous year. As a result, consumer-end voltages were affected as they get voltages as low as 170 volts instead of 220/230 volts.

The regulator said NTDC had failed to maintain the frequency limits as it varied from 48.67 hertz to 50.67 hertz against the permissible frequency limits of 49.5 hertz to 50.5 hertz.

Such variation in frequency limits resulted in partial system collapses (blackouts) and the network splitting up to 10 times a year. These blackouts caused splitting of northern and southern parts of the network and areas from Guddu to Peshawar went under dark due to low frequency.

Based on explanations and show-cause and NTDC’s responses thereto, the regulator finally imposed a fine of Rs5m on NTDC in January against which the system operator (NTDC) filed a review motion that was heard by the regulator on April 10.

However, after reviewing all relevant documents and applicable laws, and hearing arguments forwarded by the petitioner, Nepra concluded that NTDC had not provided sufficient or plausible ground to justify any modification in the Nepra order imposing the fine. It finally rejected the review petition and upheld the Rs5m fine.

A spokesman for NTDC, Rana Sajjad, said the company did not agree with the regulator’s decision on the grounds that performance standards did not apply to NTDC, which should be examined on the basis of the grid code as acceptable to all system operators globally.

He said the regulator’s decision was challenged by NTDC in the high court, but lost the case. NTDC has now challenged the decision of the regulator and that of the high court in the Supreme Court.

A spokesman for the Power Division, Zafaryab Khan, conceded that low frequency and voltage fluctuations were a serious issue in 2013-14 and the government has since been focusing on removing system constraints. As a consequence, the low frequency and voltage-related complaints have dropped to 30-40 a year compared to thousands of complaints in 2013-14.

He said the National Power Control Centre was generating daily reports on frequency and voltage fluctuation under the rules.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2017