Power generation hits all-time peak, transmission and distribution constraints weigh

Updated May 30, 2018


Up to $50bn investment required in transmission and distribution to end loadshedding, says power official
Up to $50bn investment required in transmission and distribution to end loadshedding, says power official

ISLAMABAD: When Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was claiming credit to have controlled energy crisis at a news conference on Tuesday, a special parliamentary panel was informed by his Power Division that $40-50 billion investment was required in the transmission and distribution system to completely end loadshedding.

Testifying before a Special Committee of the Senate on Circular Debt, Additional Secretary of the Power Division Musaddiq Khan said the power sector’s transmission and distribution network required a lot of upgradation and strengthening to completely overcome loadshedding.

For this to achieve, an investment of $40-50bn is required, said Mr Khan who also holds the additional portfolio of Managing Director of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) – an umbrella organisation of all distribution, generation and transmission companies that was disbanded twice during the PPP tenure before 2013 and still continues to operate.

The meeting of the committee was presided over by PTI’s Senator Shibli Faraz. Mr Khan told the committee that a total of 8,631 feeders were installed in the country and categorised from 1 to 7 relatively according to losses and recovery position. He said 5,367 feeders caused less than 10pc losses and described in category 1. This, he asserted was over and above what was admissible by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

In terms of power generation, he said the 20,100MW milestone had been achieved on Monday peak hours but “it lags behind in transmission”. This, he elaborated, was in most cases due to outdated transmission lines that were almost half a century old.

He said the category one consumers were exempt from loadshedding which gradually went up as the losses increased.

He said the government had ordered there should be no loadshedding in Ramazan during Seher, Iftar and Taraveeh timings, despite losses incurred. Therefore, even in case of 80pc losses, the maximum loadshedding in those areas did not go beyond 11 hours.

Joint Secretary Power Zargham Eshaq Khan in a presentation told the committee that total receivables of the power sector stood at Rs410bn in April 2013 which increased to Rs729bn in 2017 and now stood at about Rs851bn. The payables on the other hand stood at Rs207bn that increased to Rs377bn and further went up to Rs573bn at present.

Private receivables, he said had increased from Rs260bn in 2013 to Rs503bn in 2017 and Rs565bn by April 2018.

Terming the electricity theft and non-payment of bills by influential people as a financial terrorism, the senate committee has asked the government to make strategy for controlling the same.

“Lack of liquidity, law and order and running defaulters were described as main cause of increase in circular debt by the senate committee.” Mr Shibli lamented that poor people were paying electricity bills regularly and if they miss one bill their electricity is being disconnected while the influential people were regular defaulters and due to their high contacts nobody was disconnecting their connections.

He said avoiding paying electricity bills and dodging the punishment with their influence by the well-off people was financial terrorism. He said that the government need to adopt strategy to fight such the financial terrorism and should also need to be included in the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The committee was told that government was providing a subsidy of Rs52.22bn to AJK, Rs14.2bn to Fata and Rs31.4bn to industrial sector.

Managing Director of Pakistan State Oil Imran-ul-Haq while briefing the committee said that their circular debt has surpassed Rs300bn which was affecting its performance. That’s why the company is facing problem in the investment.

Haq said that monthly they were getting only 9pc payments for the oil supply. Even now the Power Division has demanded 19,000 tonnes furnace oil and if they refused the fuel supply to the power sector 9,000MW oil-based electricity will vanish from the system.

The committee asked the PSO managing director to provide the details of the circular debt and its proposal for its resolution to the committee in written.

Sukkur Electric Power Company (Sepco) chief executive officer while briefing about loadshedding and performance of the company said that out of total 487 feeders, 51 have less than 10pc losses while 299 have more than 80pc losses.

He said that due to absence of writ of law the circular debt is increasing. The provincial government is not cooperating in controlling the theft. He informed that 11,800 applications have been given against the electricity theft where only 79 FIRs were registered. It is hard to work against the power thieves due to political interference, he added.

The chief executive officer of Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) said that there are 409 feeders in its region. Currently 118 feeders are loadshedding-free while on the remaining there is 6 to 8 hours loadshedding, he added.

The Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) said that its total consumers are three million and there is capacity to consume 5,000MW electricity. However due to weak transmission and distribution system the company can take only 2,100 MW electricity.

In absence of proper system the Tribal Electric Supply Company (Tesco) is also getting power from Pesco. There are total 906 feeders in Pesco region where 17 to 18 are being shared with Tesco, he added.

On 205 feeders there is a loss of 50pc or above.

Convenor of the committee asked Pecso chief to provide the feeder wise details.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018