ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) issued a show cause notice to K-Electric on Tuesday over excessive loadshedding and began the process for similar proceedings against two other distribution companies of the federal government operating in Sindh.
The Karachi-based power utility was issued the show cause notice after a day-long public hearing a few days ago, followed by a field visit by an investigation team of Nepra to Karachi. The regulator said in a statement the investigation committee constituted to look into the excessive loadshedding in Karachi had submitted its report.
“In the light of findings of the investigation committee, the Authority has decided to proceed further and issue a show cause notice to K-Electric,” the regulator said in its brief statement.
An official said the show cause was necessitated under sections 28 and 29 of the Nepra Act and licencing rules for failing to ensure uninterrupted power supply to consumers and maintain service quality.
Meanwhile, the Nepra held public hearings into complaints against the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) and the Sukkur Electric Power Company (Sepco) over loadshedding and overbilling. A flood of complaints came in from consumers during the public hearing, presided over by Chairman Tauseef H. Farooqi.
Power regulator plans action against two distribution firms in Sindh
The Nepra is in the process of holding public hearings against seven distribution companies (Discos) of the federal government, including Hyderabad, Sukkur, Peshawar, tribal districts, Quetta, Lahore and Multan on a daily basis.
On the first day, the public hearing pertained to Hesco and Sepco.
Chief executive officer of Hesco Abdul Haq Memon conceded five to six hours of average loadshedding while high-loss areas were subjected up to 12 hours of power cuts.
He said loadshedding was worked out on the basis of system losses and unannounced loadshedding had been controlled.
Chairman Farooqui observed that he had received letters from the Sindh government over the relentless loadshedding. Mr Memon said there were some problems during the rainy days and a number of transformers went out of order.
He said there was no loadshedding on feeders supplying power to hospitals and overall loadshedding in his company was lower than last year.
Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh told the Nepra that loadshedding in Hesco and Sepco areas had now gone up to 18 hours and thanked the regulator for holding a public hearing.
He suggested that the regulator launch an investigation into the Hesco and Sepco’s performance on the pattern of K-Electric.
Mr Imtiaz said he did not want to give a political colour to the people’s suffering, but the fact was that loadshedding was a very serious issue in Sindh and the two companies (Hesco and Sepco) had not been able to draw even their allocated electricity quota from the national grid.
He said the regulator had also highlighted in its report that Hesco and Sepco had surrendered 200-300mw of their quota instead of utilising it for the benefit of their consumers.
The companies should disconnect illegal connections instead of punishing all the consumers, the minister added.
He said an impression was growing in the province that the centre was not willing to provide electricity to the people of Sindh.
Hesco officials said FIRs were not being registered on the complaint of the company staff against power theft and action was not being taken even if FIRs were registered.
A number of consumers complained against the two Discos. The complaints mostly pertained to announced loadshedding, overbilling, poor response to complaints and corruption.
For example, a representative of Shaheed Benazirabad Chamber of Commerce said linemen had turned into millionaires, but consumer problems were not coming to an end.
He said not only unannounced power cuts had become routine but also overbilling was rife.
Another businessman said the national grid had enough electricity, but Hesco was unable to supply it to consumers due to distribution constraints.
A woman complained that she was a cancer patient and had been visiting Hesco office for four years for redress of her grievance, but the matter was not resolved.
The Nepra chairman asked the woman to send the entire record to the regulator and stop visiting any other office as he would resolve the matter and asked Hesco to send her file to the regulator’s headquarters.
The chief executive of Sepco said attempts to eliminate loadshedding were hitting roadblocks due to the “kunda culture” and non-recovery of bills.
He conceded that power cuts had gone up to 12 hours.
The Nepra chairman questioned as to why the Sepco was not drawing its full electricity share. The Sepco CEO replied the power supply to high-loss feeders had to be curtailed to minimise financial losses.
He said it was a continuous battle as the staff keep on removing illegal connections that return shortly and electricity theft cases were not being registered.
Mr Imtiaz Shaikh asked the CEO to give him reports as to which police stations they went for registering FIRs against electricity theft but were not entertained. He sought a list of “electricity thieves” so that the provincial government could intervene and ensure registration of FIRs.
Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2020