ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday sought cooperation from all the four chief ministers for early closure of markets in an effort to conserve energy and regularisation of unregistered consumers in high-loss areas to eliminate system losses and improve electricity supply services.
This was stated by Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan at a news conference after a consultative session with the prime minister and chief ministers. He said the government was also considering provision of five kilo-watt solar packages on installments to all consumers receiving their salaries through cheques.
The minister said the provinces would get back to the Centre after their own consultations about the energy conservation measures, including early closure of markets. “We have sought maximum support and they have promised to extend full cooperation in whatever capacity,” Mr Khan said. This was in continuation of the federal cabinet’s decision to close markets early, restore Saturday as a weekly off for offices and have 20 per cent of the employees work from home once a week.
“Efforts are simultaneously afoot to enhance power generation and conserve energy,” the minister said, adding the effective power generation capacity that was also financially viable was not more than 23,000 megawatts against the demand exceeding 27,000MW.
Minister claims power shortfall on Monday was slightly over 4,100MW
He further said loadshedding on 84pc of the total 6,070 feeders with less than 20pc losses in category 1 and 2 was less than three and a half hours on Monday as directed by the prime minister, even though many reporters contested these claims. To this, the minister said the power situation had more to do with varied personal experiences and perceptions which did not need to be in line with data.
Mr Khan said the peak demand on June 7 stood at 26,227MW, excluding about 2,840MW in the high-loss areas, while generation peaked at 22,010MW, leaving a shortfall of slightly over 4,100MW, which translated into power outages of less than three and a half hours. On top of that, the industrial sector was completely exempted from the outages to ensure continuation of jobs and manufacturing output.
The minister again blamed the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government for what he called leaving the power sector in a mess and delaying projects that were in the implementation phase. He claimed the previous government had delayed the 720MW Karot Hydropower Project, which should have been completed in February, and Shanghai Electric’s 1,200MW coal power plant in Thar had also been delayed by at least a year.
He added that efforts were in full swing to operationalise the 1,300MW Trimmu liquefied natural gas power project, which should have been ready three years ago. “We are trying our level best to bring them online to ensure at least 26,000-28,000MW well before the next summer,” he said, adding the average temperatures since mid-April were 25pc or 7-8 degree Celsius higher than previous years.
The minister said the current shortfall was also because of non-availability of 1,100MW from the Karachi Nuclear Plant (K-2) that was currently being refueled and would be back in the system. Orders had also been placed for coal imports and the coal-based generation would achieve its peak next week. This will bring down the shortfall markedly and ensure zero loadshedding by the end of June, followed by a maximum of 8,500MW availability of hydropower capacity, which currently stood at 4,500MW, he claimed.
Mr Khan agreed that power affordability was a major challenge, but the sectoral issues had become so complex and severe that a series of measures would be required once the current crisis was overcome. The government, meanwhile, would protect consumers using less than 200 units a month from the tariff hike and then launch a massive campaign to increase solar power generation to 10,000MW by 2030, he maintained.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2022