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14 to 18-hour loadshedding

LAHORE, April 16: With weather warming up in most parts of the country, demand for electricity has risen above 14,000MW with power generation still well below 9,000MW. As a result, urban feeders are suffering from up to 14 hours of loadshedding and rural ones close to 18 hours.

Power planners on Tuesday insisted that they had exempted the industry, which used up to 3,000MW. This worsened the situation for all. Otherwise, loadshedding could have come down to six hours.

The industry, however, has other ideas: entire industry – textile, cement, pharmaceuticals and others – continue to suffer from exceptional, mostly unannounced, outages, says an industrialist from Lahore. The protesting workers in all industrial hubs stand witness to the crisis, he says.

According to power managers, the demand came down by almost 500MW on Tuesday as compared to Monday because of rains in upper half of the country, but it was still close to 14,000MW. The problem is with generation, which is suffering all kinds of problems: oil and gas shortages keeping well over 3,000MW capacity idle, low releases from dams and no money for fuel.

“The second layer of problem is added by the mismanagement,” says an official of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC). No one knows which distribution company (disco) is drawing what from the national pool. When the Wapda chairman was made convener, a new monitoring system was developed. Within days the arrangement ended and with it ended the entire distribution planning. It is free for all again. Once again, the spectre of a national breakdown is haunting the planners because all those factors that led to the recent one are coming back to haunt the system, he warned.

The industry has been told to voluntarily reduce the load by 40 per cent, but currently no one is monitoring it. This is a question of around 1,200MW, which can play havoc with the system, especially if some emergency emerges during the time of no backup arrangement to meet contingency.

Officially, the planners are conceding only 3,200MW deficit – generation of little less than 10,000MW during the peak hours and a demand of 13,000MW. But they know that situation is much more precarious than suggested by these figures. It can certainly be disastrous if any plant drops out of system for paucity of funds and fuel, he said.