ALL is not well in the power ministry and its subordinate organisations. The minister concerned recently stated that against a power demand of 27,000MW, the power supply was only 23,000MW in the country, resulting in a shortfall of 4,000MW, which had to be managed through loadshedding.
On the other hand, the head of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) is on record having said before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the country had the capacity to produce 41,000MW of electricity, meaning that there existed 18,000MW of energy over and above the 23,000MW requirement mentioned by the minister.
From the above contradictory statements, it is evident that a lot of confusion exists in the power division regarding national generation capacity and power demand data.
For long, we have been told that there exists surplus power that remains unutilised, resulting in economic burden on the government. The figures quoted by the last government stood around 39,000MW of electricity generation capacity available against a maximum demand of only 24,000MW, for which it blamed its predecessors.
Amid all this, no one tells the public where all that excess electricity has disappeared. There is something fishy going on in the power sector and certainly the situation is blurred.
The Nepra chief pointed out before the PAC that full output of independent power producers (IPPs) is not being utilised though the government is paying them for their unutilised capacity as per the terms of contract. Why their full capacity is not being utilised to reduce or eliminate loadshedding which is causing untold misery to the consumers?
It appears that the authorities concerned are either incapable or are hiding the facts. In any case, the masses are made to suffer tremendously by lengthy loadshedding.
A high-powered body should be established with experts drawn from outside the government sector to look into the existing power crisis, in particular, and the overall working of the ailing power sector, in general. The public has the right to know the facts and would like the government to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Riaz Bhutta Islamabad
Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2022