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ISLAMABAD, Nov 23: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has detected violation of rules and regulations by the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) as the utility has allowed private power producers to ensure uninterrupted supply to a select group of influential consumers.

On the other hand, ordinary consumers have to endure up to 18 hours of loadshedding on a daily basis, the authority has noted and asked the government to fix responsibility against the officials concerned. After conducting an inquiry into the matter, the regulator provided an opportunity to Fesco to explain its position but found its response “inadequate and unsatisfactory”, according to sources.

Taking a lenient view, however, Nepra reprimanded the distribution company instead of imposing penalties on it, and asked the ministry of water and power to initiate proceedings to fix responsibility against Fesco officers, the sources told Dawn.

In a letter sent to the ministry, the regulator said it had noted irregularities being committed by Fesco in purchasing electricity from two private companies -- Sitara Energy and Kohinoor Power --- and conducted an inquiry.

The findings of the inquiry proved that Fesco had committed illegalities and violated provisions of its licence and the Nepra act, the letter said.

It said that Fesco was required to seek prior approval from Nepra of its electricity purchases under power procurement rules of 2005 but it entered into agreements with Sitara Energy and Kohinoor Power without such approval and, thus, violated the rules.

The Nepra initiatives to encourage Discos (distribution companies) to purchase power from small plants were used selectively by Fesco, ignoring the provisions which required it to protect consumers and ensure that the tariff for them was not increased, it said.

Necessary certifications required by Nepra in this respect were not furnished, the letter said.

Fesco allowed interconnection to Kohinoor Power and Sitara Energy though the private entities had not been permitted to have interconnection with the utility, it said.

“Fesco has been supplying uninterrupted electricity to a group of consumers by using power purchased from Kohinoor Power, which amounts to discriminatory practice and has caused huge losses to other consumers.”

The letter said that Fesco was exclusively responsible for distribution of electricity to its consumers under its licence.

One of the major objectives of the Nepra act is to put in place a regulatory regime bringing discipline in the distribution business by not allowing other entities to lay cables in Disco’s service territories as was done before the creation of Nepra.

“However, Fesco wilfully allowed the two private companies to install electrical feeders in its territory, defeating the whole concept of exclusivity under the act,” the regulator said.

Fesco allowed only selective consumers to connect to the feeders and such consumers were not subjected to loadshedding at all, it said. “By doing so, Fesco discriminated against other consumers who are experiencing 16-18 hours of outages”.

Saying that such discriminatory practices by Fesco were in violation of section 21 (2b) of the Nepra act, it added that technical losses caused by the feeders were also shared by other consumers whereas smooth electric supply was being enjoyed by selected consumers only.

The regulator said violations of regulatory regime and direct supply to consumers by private parties could not be carried out without the collusion of Fesco officials. It recommended to the government to play its role as the owner of the Disco and conduct an investigation to fix responsibility.