ISLAMABAD, Feb 1: In an effort to tide over the country’s worst ever energy shortage, the federal government has asked the provinces and trade and industrial bodies to strictly observe a set of energy conservation measures to reduce consumption by about 30 per cent with immediate effect.

In a letter to the chief secretaries of the provinces, Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas, and about 50 member organisations of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), the Planning Commission has said the country is “ facing an acute and growing energy shortage coupled with rapidly rising consumption, depleting domestic oil and gas reserves and escalating international fuel prices”.

The electricity shortfall is of grave consequence not only for the national economy but also for the wellbeing of the citizens. “Gravity of the situation demands that appropriate measures are put in place to reduce the consequences to the economy and society.”

The provincial governments and district, city, tehsil and union council nazims have been asked to adopt the standard conservation procedures in public offices. Through the FPCCI, all private establishments were asked to reduce energy consumption.

Some of the measures suggested by the government may not be implemented immediately given the initial costs of the replacement of the existing equipment. The government has decided to appoint energy management auditors in major cities to ensure compliance with conservation measures.

SHORT-TERM MEASURES: As an immediate measure, public and private employees have been asked to switch off unnecessary lights to save energy by 15 per cent. They will be required to replace fluorescent tube lights with energy-saving bulbs which will yield a saving of 20 per cent.

Under the directive, office temperatures would be raised in winter by not more than 22 degrees centigrade and reduced in summer by not less than 25 degrees centigrade. Coupled with maintenance of heating and cooling systems, the measure would provide a saving of 15 per cent. Reducing outdoor building lighting and illumination and switching off billboards after 7pm will reduce consumption by 25 per cent.

The provincial and local governments have also been directed to switch off lights in parks and grounds at 7pm. All consumers have been advised to wrap their water heaters with blankets to save heat and also to reduce their temperature to save 15 per cent energy.

MEDIUM-TERM MEASURES: Public and private sector consumers have been advised to replace their air- conditioners and coolers with energy- efficient models and also replace old wirings and connect them in parallel connections to save energy by 15 per cent.

The provincial and city governments have been advised to use ‘smart street lighting’ and replace traffic lights with light emitting diodes (LEDs) which consume up to 90 per cent less energy than existing incandescent bulbs.

Consumers in the public and private sectors have also been requested to use solar water heating system because they have a payback period of less than two years compared with gas heaters.

The government has recommended use of photovoltaic systems for lighting in parks and lawns which also have a payback period of two years.

The Planning Commission believes the measures would provide a cumulative reduction in energy consumption by 20-30 per cent and reduce energy bills by 30 per cent. All governments and trade bodies have been asked to provide quarterly reports on implementation of the measures.

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