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LAHORE: National Transmission & Despatch Company’s (NTDC’s) failure to remove its various system constraints have left major power distribution companies (Discos) with no option but to observe forced loadshedding for hours every day.

The situation is serious in the service areas of the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) and the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) where the officials continue to shut scores of 11kV power distribution feeders in peak hours due to overloaded NTDC’s system.

However, Lahore and its adjoining districts, which are being covered by the Lahore Electric Supply Company are a bit stable than those of Fesco and Iesco areas, it is learnt.

“The 500kV Gatti (Faisalabad) grid, which is considered to be the main station and heart of the country’s transmission system, has developed faults since the NTDC allegedly failed to upgrade it,” a senior official said.

“Since various other NTDC’s 220kV lines originate from Gatti and connect 132kV distribution grids in Faisalabad region, it is becoming imperative for Fesco to observe forced load shedding by shutting around 200 of the its total 1,000 feeders (both domestic and industrial) these days in a bid to save its own system from the adverse impact of the NTDC’s 500kV and 220kV transmission system.”

Due to overloading issues, the 500kV gatti grid is causing severe disruption in supplying power to Faisalabad, Shah Kot, Gojra and Toba Tek Singh.

About Iesco, the official said the company was also in great trouble since its distribution system is also being affected by the 500kV Rawat.

“The 500kV Rawat is also a major grid station. Similarly, various 220kV lines are connected with this grid to supply power to the 132kV distribution grids and lines of Iesco. It was also not upgraded by the NTDC, as it was just required a new 750MVA transformer. So this station continues to be overloaded daily in peak hours, causing great disruption in the Iesco’s distribution system.

For the last many days, the company is observing forced shutdowns for hours in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and others areas whenever the Rawat grid becomes overloaded, the official maintained.

Another official, who knows the issues with NTDC’s 500kV Sheikhupura grid, said it was also putting Lesco in troubles every day. The station is also required to have new transformers. The company made its 220kV circuit connected with this by adding new transformers last year. But it did nothing on 500kV side, creating problems for the 220kV and 132kV systems.

“Various 220kV lines are originated from this 500kV station, connecting it with 220kV Kot Lakhpat, Wapda Town, Ghazi and Ravi grid stations. These 220kV stations supply power to several 132kV grids of Lesco. So it continues to put Lesco officials in forced load shedding to save their system due to the overloading issue,” the official added. “To avoid this trouble, we have rescheduled the load shedding on high loss feeders by observing this in peak hours,” he added. He said these issues were also disturbing some other Discos too, but with low intensity.

The official, who requested anonymity, urged the caretaker federal government to look into the issues of NTDC and Pakistan Electric Power Company.

The NTDC managing director was not available for comments.

Talking to Dawn, a senior NTDC official admitted the company could not add a 750MVA transformer to the Rawat grid on time. Similarly, he said, the Gatti also required replacement of transformers that were installed many years ago.

“The core issue we are facing these days is hydel generation in north as Mangla and Tarbela dams are generating almost half of their generation capacity due to the lack of water. The situation has forced to draw generation from the thermal power plants in south, a majority of them are connected with 500kV. This is a major reason of overloading the 500kV Gatti and Rawat grids, leading to forced loadshedding.”

He also admitted flawed connecting of the power plants with 500kV transmission lines. “Had they been connected with the 220kV lines, we would have averted these issues,” he said. However, he said, there was no issue with the Sheikhupura 500kV grid, claiming that the same was already upgraded.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2018