KE chief blames loadshedding on power theft

Updated 16 Jul 2020

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Alvi said n an effort to provide relief to its residential customers during the late-night hours, the KE was managing load through industrial loadshedding. — File photo
Alvi said n an effort to provide relief to its residential customers during the late-night hours, the KE was managing load through industrial loadshedding. — File photo

KARACHI: K-Electric’s chief executive officer Moonis Alvi said on Wednesday that the loadshedding being resorted to in the metropolis was in line with the National Power Policy 2013 and was purely on account of power theft.

“Even in areas with extremely high levels of power theft, cumulative loadshed hours do not exceed eight hours,” he said, adding that the loadshedding schedules were uploaded to the KE website daily and SMS sent to all customers registered with 8119 SMS service.

The power utility chief, flanked by KE’s chief financial officer Aamir Ghaziani and chief distribution officer Amer Zia, was speaking at a press conference.

He said that sometimes faults, tripping incidents or any outages could occur due to weather or environmental conditions and they were rectified on priority despite Covid-19, which was creating workforce challenges.

“Load-management is only necessitated when generation capacity is compromised or demand outpaces supply on account of high temperatures and humidity as well as erratic power supplies from IPPs,” he added.

Mr Alvi said that the current situation was unprecedented and in an effort to provide relief to its residential customers during the late-night hours, the KE was managing load through industrial loadshedding.

Discussing the prevailing “misconceptions” about KE’s billing, he said the power tariff was set for all power distribution companies by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and KE could not make any modifications to it. “Similarly, K-Electric’s meters are manufactured according to international standards and purchased from the same suppliers as all other distribution companies.”

He denied that KE underutilised its generation on furnace oil to reduce its costs. “Rather, fuel costs are passed through in line with the Nepra approved mechanism and thus it makes no difference to K-Electric what fuel is utilised to generate power at the plants,” he said.

Mr Alvi said that to further benefit Karachi-based customers, KE’s upcoming plants were efficient and utilised lower-cost fuels which would make power “more affordable”.

“Our first focus right now is addressing the upcoming monsoon challenges which include urban flooding and drainage issues,” he said and added that KE was working closely with all relevant authorities in the interest of public safety.

The KE CEO also focused on his firm’s “ambitious” investment plan which, according to him, would see $2 billion spent across the power value chain over the next three years, including a 900MW RLNG-fired power plant as well as downstream transmission and distribution upgrades.

“In addition K-Electric will be investing in interconnection infrastructure with a view to evacuating additional power from the national grid on priority,” he added.

Answering a question, Mr Alvi said the federal government had also committed to expediting infrastructure upgrades at the national grid so that 300MW additional power could benefit Karachi in 2021, supplemented by a further 400MW in 2022 and 800MW in 2023. “In this regard, the power utility has already sought necessary regulatory and governmental approvals, and following the timely receipt of the same, K-Electric will be in a position [to] materialise the large-scale power projects that will move Karachi into a power surplus position,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2020