Utility is underutilizing the available energy of its system: NEPRA

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Consumers being blackmailed through disconnection of supply to PMTs

By Nasir Mahmood KARACHI: There must be a daily hearing by the Assembly Committee against K-Electric’s frequent load-shedding, faults and break downs in scorching heat of Karachi. It was observed after the second meeting of Coordination Committee of Sindh Assembly where K-Electric representatives were failed to convince Committee Members about frequent load-shedding in Karachi. The nine member Committee chaired by MPA Muhammad Jawaid Nagori had summoned the KE Executives initially on 31st May but the meeting was adjourned due to absence of CEO of the Company. The Committee is established to monitor and implement the policies or whatever K-Electric issues. The second meeting of the Committee held on 6th June in Committee Room, Sindh Assembly Building. Amir Zia, Director Consumer Affairs & Distribution of K-Electric and two other officials claimed that the power utility was carrying out load-shedding in 40 percent of the city’s areas all of which were no-recovery areas or had other power theft issues. As per KE’s representatives, 60 percent of the city’s residential areas were being supplied electricity without any interruption. The Committee was told that the power utility is at present facing a shortfall of 200 Megawatts. City’s total electricity demand stood at 3,200 MW while it was generating 2,900 MW. Nagori, while dismissing KE officials’ assertions maintained that city’s residents were facing serious problems because of the privatized power utility’s performance. Electricity consumers were being blackmailed through disconnection of power supply to the PMTs (Pole-mounted transformers), he observed. Members of the Committee termed KE’s side of the story unsatisfactory and decided presenting a copy of the agreement the privatized power utility entered in with the federal government over its functioning and management, in the Committee’s next meeting. Informed sources disclosed to the ‘National Courier’ that according to record KE is facing shortage of more than 600 MW not 200 MW. Amir Zia from KE claimed that this is Government’s policy that wherever bills are not paid and losses occurred we may have load shedding. Committee asked the Director whether this is a law or just a policy. He replied that this is a policy. Committee asked to produce the said policy document. It was further observed by Committee, if this is a policy it could not be implemented until it is passed as a Bill by the assembly. The sources disclosed that under the law if any issue relates to more than one citizen then it is to be approved by the Assembly. While in Karachi there are more than 2.5 million affected consumers of electricity in the population of more than 20 million. According to NEPRA record KE’s own production capacity is 1652 MW and 1055 MW is the declared capacity of IPPs and NTDC. In addition to this 400 MW extra old plants are also in use by KE. In this account the total energy production capacity by KE comes to 3,107 MW then why they were shedding the load in scorching heat and the holy month of Ramadan in Karachi. Break-downs issue was also discussed in the meeting when Amir Zia raised the cause of power failure and cited that in old town area one shovel had dug out the 132,000 watts and underground cable was burst. The Committee Chairman Muhammad Jawaid Nagori asked how it was broken and why it was not protected. Did you make the safety trench for this heavy loaded cable or not? The officials were speechless in front of the Committee and said they will reply after inquiring from their office. It may be mentioned here that Sindh High Court Justice Irfan Saadat Khan who headed the bench hearing the load-shedding case had raised a question; “Is K-Electric waiting for people to die [from load-shedding] before it starts providing electricity to the people?” Referring to the heat-related fatalities from the heatwave in 2015, when so many died from load-shedding’, the judge remarked that they cannot sit idle when there is unannounced load-shedding in the city. Unannounced load-shedding still continues across the city’s Malir, Model Colony, Old City, North Karachi, Gulistan-e-Johar, FB Area and other localities during 24 hours of Ramadan. Based on the analysis of the data as submitted by K-Electric, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has already noted with grave concern that K-Electric is subjecting its consumers to undue and unauthorized load-shedding by continuously underutilizing the available energy of its system (own + external). Moreover, it was also noted that K-Electric is keeping its available generation capacity idle and relying more on the energy purchased from NTDC. By doing so, K-Electric is necessitating the operations of the most expensive plants in NTDC system as well as aggravating the menace of load-shedding in the whole country. In view thereof, K-Electric is hereby directed to prudently utilize the available energy of its system to eliminate/ reduce the load-shedding in its territorial jurisdiction and in the whole country, the NEPRA added.

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