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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Energy approved the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill 2017 on Thursday.

Known as the Nepra Amendment, the bill proposes the establishment of a Technical Appellate Tribunal against the decisions of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra). Under the current law, Nepra decisions can only be challenged before a high court.

The committee, chaired by Senator Israrullah Khan Zerhri, approved the bill after detailed deliberations with Minister for Power Owais Ahmed Khan Leghari and Secretary Power Division Yousuf Naseem Khokhar. The minister said that after improving the generation sector, the government was now focused on uplifting the transmission and distribution networks.

PPIB, AEDB merger bill deferred

The committee deferred another bill for the merger of Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) and Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) on the grounds that the process to merge these two organisations would take up to five years as immediate changes in their structure could create issues.

The minister said the Power Division was the administrative head of AEDB and represents the organisation. He criticised the CEO AEDB for bypassing the ministry and approaching the committee secretariat requesting that the board be given a hearing.

On the occasion, Senator Moshin Aziz of PTI criticised the government for establishing wind energy projects which were three times more expensive compared to other countries. Mr Leghari said the projects were approved when the country’s power sector was in a precarious state.

Currently the government is in a position to disband upfront tariff and has decided to accept only International Competitive Bidding-based tariff, he said.

Secretary Power Division assured the committee that the renewable energy sector would be an important part of the new energy policy. After reaching a comfort level, the government has to see how the basket price can be brought down, he said.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2018