Lahore suffers up to six-hour outages amid high temperatures

Published June 10, 2021
Children cool off next to an ice block at an ice factory in Lahore on June 9. — AFP
Children cool off next to an ice block at an ice factory in Lahore on June 9. — AFP

LAHORE: As Punjab sizzles at 43 degrees Celsius, which according to the weather applications, feels like 49 degrees C, the city dwellers on Wednesday had to put up with more than six-hour loadshedding – depending on the area where they resided.

The total demand of the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) on Wednesday touched 4,500MW and it suffered more than 800MW shortfall, which forced the company managers to resort to, on average, five to six hour loadshedding.

With 3,700MW supply, which was not consistent due to fluctuating national generation and demand, the Lesco had to switch off many city feeders to spread the load and keep the system stable, which compounded the people’s problems.

According to a Lesco official, who did not want to be named, the outages are not just because of generation shortfall, but are also “revenue based”, which has created a chaos all over the country, and Lahore, being a major load centre, has to shares its part of suffering. Other distribution companies are suffering even more due to this decision; like Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) is taking a hit of up to 10 hours and Queta Electric Supply Company (Quesco) 4 to 20 hours (for agriculture tube-wells).

“The city always had problems with certain areas, where the transmission system is not strong enough to carry the power load. Though the Lesco has worked a lot on these weak links, the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) system was not coping up with the load. As a result, on Wednesday 132MW lines did not perform well enough to take the entire load and kept collapsing, creating transmission and distribution issues.

In addition to that, another issue was created because of the closure of some Independent Power Producers (IPPs), which are situated near Lahore and help stabilise power during the peak season, like the current one. These IPPs have not been generating power because of payment issues. The federal government released payable amounts to some IPPs built under 1994 policy, but negotiations are still on with those built under 2002 policy close to the city. All these factors connived on Wednesday and the city suffered massively,” he says.

Admitting a bit mismanagement as well, a Lesco employee says that the company and other government agencies, should have avoided events like “cleanup operation” on Walton Road, which resulted in suspension of power supply for more than five hours on Tuesday amid high summer temperatures and added to people’s misery. However, it was an issue on that particular day (Tuseday), which won’t be repeated now, he claimed.

The company had done its routine maintenance and may not cause issues in the next few weeks, he said, hoping that with improvement in power supply, the trouble should recede in the next few days.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2021

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