HYDERABAD: Three units of Jamshoro Thermal Power Plant have started power generation in order to meet the national energy shortfall on the demand of the National Power Control Centre (NPCC).
Jamshoro’s three, out of the four units, were producing around 300 MW to 325 MW to the national grid till Tuesday after having been energised a couple of days ago.
Sources in the power plant told Dawn on Tuesday that Japanese unit-I and Chinese units-II and IV were producing electricity after remaining dysfunctional until recently. The fourth unit was going to start production once the power plant management was able to arrange water supply for the process, said employees. Cumulatively, the Jamshoro plant would produce electricity around 450 MW to the national grid shortly.
“Currently, there is shortage of water in Indus River and even quality of available water is not fit for use in the plant,” said a power house source.
He said that efforts were being made to arrange water from the site of coal power project near the Jamshoro power plant. “Once this [water supply] line is laid, the fourth unit i.e., Chinese unit-III will be contributing electricity,” he said.
Electricity production could only be made possible by the power house management with the availability of workers who had otherwise been put in surplus pool by the energy ministry. Those workers were required to join various distribution companies as closure of the public sector power plants looked imminent. “The ministry had been pressing for closure of all these power plants. But then suddenly, the shortfall was reported in the system and the same plants were required to contribute power to the national grid,” he said.
The energy ministry had put around 1,750 employees of the public sector power plants in the surplus pool previous year in order to close plants. These workers, despite resistance by the union, were transferred/ shifted to different power distribution companies.
The CBA union of Jamshoro Power Company Limited (JPCL) or Genco-I (as it now commonly known), however, questioned the surplus pool’s creation for 750 employees of the JPCL.
The union got restraining order and these employees kept working in Jamshoro. “It is due to presence of these employees that the power plant is run successfully once again. Employees worked day in day out to energise the units a couple of days back. Otherwise, it will not have been possible for making plant functional,” said an employee.
The Kotri power plant’s five units remained closed, said an official of the JPCL. Likewise, the Muzaffargarh power plant was not functioning as its management allowed its workers to report to distribution companies after they were put in the surplus pool. The Guddu’s power plant remained faulty to date.
Luckily, it was the JPCL that provided required cushion to the energy ministry by producing over 300MW to meet the shortfall.
Last year in May 2021, the JPCL’s two units had produced 125MW and 100MW energy from Japanese unit-I & Chinese unit-IV respectively. Before May, the power house had produced energy in October 2020 for two weeks. “Since then, the plant remained ‘on standby’ as per energy ministry’s directive/requirement,” said official.
According to break-up, unit-I last worked for two days in Oct 21 and then since March 29, it was in operation; unit-II last worked on Sept 24 and 25, 2 020, and now it is functioning since April 3; unit-III last worked on July 19, 2021, and now it is being energised on April 5; unit-4 remained energised on Oct 12, 2021, and then on Jan 25, 2022. It again started producing on March 31, 2022.
The power plant management was given to understand that the energy ministry did not need electricity given the surplus energy production in Pakistan’s energy mix.
According to an official, these public sector power plants were declared loss-making entities, but a new term of ‘inefficient plants’ was coined within the government for these public sector plants.
“These units in the JPCL have operated 25 times since May 2021 whenever the country faced energy shortfall. Similarly at present, the Jamshoro units are operating to meet power requirement again during present power crises when most of the plants run by independent power producers (IPPs) are under shutdown due to their own constraints,” explained a knowledgeable employee.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2022