The current electricity crisis and subsequent protests across Pakistan appear to mirror what was witnessed during the government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) when shortfall reached 7,000MW during the scorching summer months.
The country is again facing forced loadshedding of 8-10 hours in urban and 18 hours in rural areas whereas there is complete “silence” in the Ministry of Water and Power. On Tuesday, it was stated that the countrywide electricity demand except KE’s domain, was 17,000MW whereas generation stood at 10,000MW, showing shortfall of 7,000MW.
The shortfall might be more than this as National Power Control Centre does not provide accurate figures. Generation from hydel was around 1,100MW. The government power generation plants (Gencos) were generating only 2000MW whereas generation from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) was recorded at 6500 MW. Generation from solar and other sources was 500MW. NPCC is fulfilling 50 per cent of Discos’ demand.
According to sources, Independent Power Producers Advisory Council (IPPAC), which, according to the Minister for Water and Power, Khawja Asif, has no legal status, has written a letter to the new Secretary Water and Power seeking discussion on serious pending issues with the objective of smoothing ruffled feathers.
Though, no official forecast of demand in May, June and July is available to media, insiders in the Ministry of Water and Power claim that demand is expected to cross 24000 MW during peak time against expected generation of 16500 MW.
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), the regulator, which is facing the ire of the government for resisting attempts to come under the administrative control of Water and Power Ministry, in its state of industry report 2015-16 hinted that the country would not be loadshedding-free in 2018. The report which is under scrutiny is yet to be released.
According to Economic Survey 2015-16 during July-March FY 2016, the installed capacity in the PEPCO system was 23,101MW compared to 23,212MW during the corresponding period last year with hydel at 27MW, thermal at 15,324MW, and nuclear at 750MW. During the period under discussion, electricity generation through thermal remained 45,252 Gwh.
The Survey acknowledged that one critical issue in electricity generation is the inefficient recovery system while the other is transmission and distribution losses. National Power Policy 2013 is designed to address these issues.
However, the government has taken various steps in this regard: Installation of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) software to optimise transmission and monitor losses and incentives to private sector to build transmission infrastructure. Rain is expected at the end of current week which may lower the woes of the people.
The impact of electricity shortage on social life can be gauged from the fact that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) parents are now gifting solar panels as dowry.-Business Recorder