Agonising outages hit Karachiites as KE power plant develops fault

Published August 3, 2022
The locality of Bhimpura is enveloped in darkness during loadshedding hours on Tuesday. —Shakil Adil / White Star
The locality of Bhimpura is enveloped in darkness during loadshedding hours on Tuesday. —Shakil Adil / White Star

KARACHI: As the city struggles with rain and crumbling infrastructure, frequent power outages and loadshedding — at times for 12-16 hours a day — are making life impossible for Karachiites.

Following the announcement by the KE about a technical fault in one of the generating units of its Bin Qasim plant, citizens across the city, who continue to face loadshedding, believe that the fault will exacerbate the situation.

The KE on Tuesday said that the first unit of its Bin Qasim Power Station-3 (BQPS-III) was currently offline following a fault identified during a test being conducted as part of the plant’s commissioning, with an estimated restoration time of eight to 10 weeks.

A KE spokesman told Dawn that no blast took place at the facility, which was taken offline late on Monday night.

KE spokesman says problem may take 8-10 weeks to rectify

“The development arose during testing being performed by Siemens AG as part of the final stages of commissioning. Representatives from Siemens AG and Harbin Electric International, the contractor’s consortium, immediately initiated assessment,” the KE said in a statement and added: “While the plant is still under test run, we are closely monitoring the progress and have full confidence in the team of global experts tasked to resolve this on priority.”

According to a media brief, early assessment showed that the fault is isolated to a section of the gas turbine. “Restoration time is currently estimated at 8-10 weeks. A detailed root cause analysis is also underway.”

The utility said that BQPS-III had achieved full load multiple times in the past month. Currently, power supply to the city is as per the routine schedule announced on June 30, it added.

With an investment of over $650 million, BQPS-III completed the first firing of its generation unit of 450 megawatts on March 14 earlier this year.

‘Paying consumers being penalised’

Paying consumers in very high loss (VHL) areas continue to suffer the most compared to those with low loss (LL) feeders, which are mostly exempted from loadshedding.

The utility defines LL feeders as those where billing recovery is 80 per cent or above, while VHL feeders are those where recovery losses are 70pc, meaning most consumers are not paying bills and electricity theft is high.

Speaking to Dawn, Ahmed Chandio, a resident of Ramazan Gabol Goth near Safoora Chowrangi, said that paying consumers in his area were being penalised. “We have no power for 10 hours every day, sometimes more.”

“KE needs to come up with a mechanism where paying consumers are not made to suffer. What is a bill-paying consumer supposed to do? My entire lane pays electricity bills, but we are penalised,” says Mr Chandio.

In a tweet, Salman Mohsin from Saudabad said that his area had been facing announced loadshedding for 10 hours daily. According to a screenshot of the schedule, the first spell of loadshedding in his area begins at 8:05am to 11:05am; then 1:35pm to 4:35pm; 7:05pm to 9:05pm, and 11:35pm to 1:05am.

Meanwhile, responding to enraged consumers on social media, KE in a tweet said, “In light of the ongoing power supply constraints, K-Electric announced a rationalised load shed schedule for its customers. The shortfall is round the clock in KE territory and is persisting due to rising temperatures and curtailed fuel supply.”

The representative insisted that there was no unscheduled loadshedding.

Aneel Iqbal, a resident of Garden west, tweeted that loadshedding in his locality lasted for nine hours every day, primarily due to kundas. KE says it can’t do anything about the kundas so they shut the whole area.

“In my area, there is at least 7 hours of loadshedding daily. This was a loadshedding exempted area earlier,” says Abdul Ghaffar, a sports journalist and an anchor.

A resident of Drigh Road said the locality is one of the most liveable places in Karachi, but is plagued by loadshedding. “Between January and March, we had over 20 maintenance shutdowns which lasted from 9am to 5pm. Cabling was changed and our local IBC official assured us that no power outages would happen. However, things have gotten worse.”

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2022

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