LAHORE: The unending controversy over the commercial operation date (COD) of the 660kV High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line for evacuation of 4,000MW has put the credibility of this international and innovative project at stake.

This situation, on the other hand, has also exposed the immaturity of senior officers of the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC), the operator of this project.

“While one officer formally confirms the line’s CoD at 2800MW, the other rejects this on the pretext of line’s testing at the 4000MW power evacuation capacity. It shows that a group of immature officers is ruling the NTDC and putting the credibility of this international and innovative project at stake,” an official source in the Power Division told Dawn on Friday.

“The government must take notice of the situation and order an inquiry to end this CoD controversy once for good,” the official, requesting anonymity, suggested.

He said the CoD means declaration of the start of formal commercial operation (after complete testing) of any project as per its full/installed capacity and specification. But in this case, the line’s CoD was completed at 2800MW instead of the actual installed capacity of evacuating 4,000MW of power, he said.

According to a letter issued by the NTDC’s General Manager (Technical) on Jan 12, the project’s Capability Demonstration Test (CDT) was confirmed by the Independent Engineer. “The trial operation and CDT were completed on Aug 26, 2021 duly approved by the owner’s engineer and the independent engineer. He also issued a CDT certificate thereby declaring successful commissioning of the project,” the letter titled CoD notification written to Nepra explains, accepting the COD at 2800MW with effect from Sept 1, 2021.

But another officer (GM System Operations) wrote on Jan 19 to the managing director NTDC, recommending the company to carry out the line’s testing at 4000MW in February and middle of March 2022. “If there is no issue with the CoD at 2800MW, then why they are planning to test it at 4000MW,” the source maintained.

It is pertinent to mention that another two officers, had earlier also opposed each other on this issue. And one (HVDC GM), through a letter on Jan 3 had said: “The approval of the CoD cannot be accorded until the fulfillment of all codal formalities as required in Transmission Service Agreement (TSA) and rectification of the discrepancies,”

The source said had the CoD done in accordance with the TSA, the NTDC’s GM (HVDC), and not the GM (Technical), who is objecting the Sept 1 CoD on account of testing at 2800MW, should have issued notification of according approval to the CoD. “It means that he (the HVDC GM) was not agreed to write such a letter, forcing the top management to get this written by the other officer (GM Technical),” he argued.

When contacted, NTDC Managing Director Manzoor Ahmad dispelled the impression and termed it a result of jealousy among the officers. “Yes the line was tested at 2800MW and its CoD was done on this power evacuation. It was absolutely done in line with the TSA that recommends the line’s power evacuation tests at the maximum generation available at the time of CoD,” he explained.

He said the line would be tested at the full installed capacity soon after having the 4000MW power generation.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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