By Khalid Mustafa
Come what may, the PML-N Government is determined to end the darkness in the country once and for all, the Federal Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali told Pakistan’s Perspective keeping in view the ongoing political developments that have virtually jolted the country.
The ministry is upbeat to complete by December 2017 the projects relating to transmitting the electricity to end consumers and transmission and distribution system will be made strong enough to carry the 27,000 MW of electricity ensuring the country free of the menace of load-shedding.
The working on the projects aiming to upgrade the ongoing transmission and distribution system enough to carry the load of new electricity generation have alarmingly slowed down as the top man of the government and his ministers are badly entrenched in war for their survival and to this effect they are not able to pay the required heed to the said projects, said a senior official at ministry of water and power. Nonetheless, the spokesman of the ministry said that the government is certainly able to cope with the system constraints and complete by December this year all the projects pertaining to strengthening and up-gradating the transmission and distribution system.
“No doubt, the ongoing political upheavals have compelled the top leadership to pay more heed to political issues, but at the same time, the government is more vigilant about the development projects, particularly the power sector project,” the minister said arguing: “We have chalked out the mechanism to monitor the projects relating to transmission and distribution system. This means that the transmission and distribution system will be upgraded in next 4-5 months.”
So far, the government has managed to succeed in injecting 5576 MW in the system erasing the power deficit during the peak hours despite the political expeditions followed by 126 days Dharna undertaken by PAT of Dr Tahirul Qadri and PTI headed by Imran khan. The credit of doing away with the existing power deficit of over 5500 MW goes to the incumbent regime which performed well despite the political upheavals during 4 years time.
The government is facing the tough time in SC. However, still it would be able to jack up the electricity generation to 8962 MW by end of the current calendar year as the new power plants, according to the latest documents available with this scribe, will add 3386 MW more in the system by December this year. “Hats off to the PML-N Government for this tremendous performance,” he said arguing that it was mission impossible as the task was gigantic and the resources were meager. The government had earlier fixed the target to complete the projects by December this year with regard to strengthening the transmission and distribution system enough to carry the required load as per the massive increase in demand of electricity.
The documents show that in 2013, the projects that add 473 MW in 2014 include New Bong Escape (84 MW), Allai Khwar (121 MW), Khan Khwar (72MW), Jinnah Hydel units 4,5 (24 MW), FFCL (50 MW), Gomal Zam (17MW), DEVIS (13 MW), ZEPL (56 MW), Jinnah Hydel Unit 8 (12 MW) and Jinnah Hydel units 6,7 (24 MW). And in 2017 the projects which came on stream with 1422 MW of electricity include Dubair Khwar (130 MW), Uch-II (393 MW), JDW-II (26 MW), JDW-III (27 MW), TGF (50 MW), FWEL-II (50 MW), and Guddu power plant (747 MW). In the year 2015, the electricity of 717 MW through 6 projects was added. The projects include RYKML (30 MW), FWEL-I (50 MW), Quaid-e- Azam (100 MW), Nandipur power plant (425 MW), Sapphire (50 MW) ans Chiniot plant (26 MW). The documents show that in 2016, electricity of 920 MW is injected in the system on account of 10 projects that became operational. The projects include APOLO SOLAR (100 MW), Best Green Solar (100 MW), Crest Solar Energy (100 MW), Younis plant (50 MW), Metro plant (50 MW), Tepal Wind (30 MW), Tenaga Wind (50 MW), Gul Ahmad Wind (50 MW) and Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-III (340 MW). And in seven months of 2017, eight projects have added 2035 MW in the system which include Fatima Energy (120 MW), Hamza Sugar (15 MW), DAWOOD (50 MW), SACHAL (50 MW), Bikki GT-II (380 MW), Bikki GT-1 (380 MW), Haveli Bahadur Shah GT-1 (380 MW) and Sahiwal coal power plant unit-I (660 MW). This means that so far in to to 5576 MW of electricity is injected and keeping in view the hard fact that the sitting regime continued to face the political mayhem in the shape of 126 days dharna.
In addition, there are more new plants to come and will add more electricity of 3386 MW in the system by December this year. The projects will come on stream by the end of the ongoing calendar year include Chashma Nuclear power plant-IV (325 MW), Balloki power plant 1200 MW, Bhikki (400 MW), Port Qaim power plant (660 MW), and Tarbela-IV (470 MW).
And by June 2018, Neelum Jehlum hydro power project will be operational which will add 969 MW and Tarbela-IV will be fully functional with 1450 MW ending the darkness once for all. But it is highly linked with the success in up-gradating the transmission and distribution system by the government which is in legal fight for its survival and in case the political turmoil continues to haunt the country, then the challenge to overcome the system constraints may continue to exist exposing the country to load shedding but for two to three hours.
Nepra’s the State of Industry Report 2016 also corroborates that there will be no power deficit by March 2018, but there will be power outages because of system constraints. The report clearly mentions that the country may continue to experience load-shedding even in 2018 due to constraints in the transmission and distribution networks despite the fact that the government will be able to overcome the electricity deficit by adding generation of almost 9000 MW in the system by the said year, the official said that no doubt the government will be able to add the new electricity supply up to more than 9000 MW by March 2018. “However, as far as up-gradation of transmission and distribution system is concerned, it may take more time than the deadline of December this year.”
In the current month of July, the NTDC chairman Dr Fayyaz Chaudhry, has been removed from his post for not laying down the 500 kv transmission line for the evacuation of 1320 MW of coal based Port Qasim power plant, 220 kv transmission line for 400 MW from Gharo (coastal area) and 500 kv another transmission line from Rahim Yar Khan to Moro. Mr. Chaudhry also failed to lay down the transmission line of 132 kv from Patrind power house of 160 MW. When asked for how long the said projects will face more delay more on account of removal of Dr Fayyaz, the official said that it depends upon the government which is now fully at legal and political war for its survival.
However, the spokesman said that the government is on toes to complete the said projects within the deadline as the next election campaign will hinge on the fulfillments of the promise made in 2013 elections that if voted to power, it would make the country load-shedding free by 2018.
Interestingly, the State of Industry Report 2016 prepared by NEPRA mentions the alarming fact that the overloading in DISCOs’ system coupled with other constraints on NTDC (National Transmission Distribution Company) system has been resulting in power supply constraints. The regulator in the report has observed that during the high demand months, due to constraints in DISCOs and NTDC network, the electricity to the tune of more than 3000 MW on a day could not be withdrawn by DISCOs.
DISCO (Electric Power Distribution Companies) are emphasized to deliver a reliable electric power to end consumers while maintaining performance standards set by NEPRA. Three main components are monitored by the regulator for gauging the performance of DISCOS as constraints in these components would limit DISCOS’ ability to draw power from the extra high voltage system of NTDC which will result in power supply cuts for the end consumers.
Highlighting the system constraints, it mentions the overloading position of 11 kv feeders in DISCOs. “Except for IESCO where overloading of 11 kv feeders is noted to be around 12 percent, other DISCOs have more than 20 percent overloaded feeders. PESCO and MEPCO have more than 40 percent feeders overloaded, whereas, in LESCO about 58 percent feeders are loaded above 80 percent and on countrywide basis 32 percent of 11 kv feeders have been noted to be loaded above the acceptable level.”
The problems of the system constraints have increased because of the fact that DISCOs remained unable to make investments to upgrade the distribution systems. In 2013-14, the DISCOs were allowed to invest Rs52.006 billion to improve the system, but they just spent Rs43.88 billion showing that it failed to spend the amount of Rs8.124 billion. And in 2014-15, DISCOs were permitted to invest Rs 57.4 billion, but they spent Rs41.8 billion showing inability to spend the huge amount of Rs 15.57 billion. And in 2015-16, the distribution companies were allowed by NEPRA to invest Rs65.034 billion, but the DISCOs just managed to spend the meager amount of Rs718.6 million.
During the reported period FY 2015-16, out of a total of 35 auto transformers at 500/220 kV grid stations, four were loaded above 80% of their rated capacity. Out of a total of 130 auto transformers at 220/132 kV grid stations, 29 were loaded above 80% of their rated capacity. And the overall percentage of overloaded auto transformers at 500/220 kV grid station is recorded as 11.43%, whereas, the overall percentage of overloaded auto transformers at 220/132 kV is recorded as 22.30 percent. The objective to end the darkness is possible if transmission and distribution system is upgraded and that is possible only if the government survives and completes its 5 year tenure