Country back to normalcy after blackout

KARACHI:

The National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) on Sunday night claimed that it has “fully restored” its transmission system whose fault on Saturday night threw the entire country into darkness.

“The NTDC grid stations of 220kV and 500 kV and transmission system have been fully restored across the country,” the NTDC spokesman said in a press statement.

“Power has been restored in Peshawar, Islamabad, Jhelum, Gujarat, Sargodha, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Okara, Sahiwal, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Dharki, Guddu, Rohri, Shikarpur, Dera Murad Jamali, Sibi and Quetta Industrial areas.

“Power is also restored to Karachi from 500 KV Jamshoro-NKI-Karachi transmission lines.  Power supply from Guddu Barrage to DG Khan, Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan has also resumed,” the NTDC said.

However, according to the Ministry of Energy spokesperson, the power plants are taking time to resume power generation at their full capacity

Pakistan plunged into total darkness after the NTDC power system encountered a major breakdown due to the tripping of the Guddu Thermal Power Plant at around midnight on Saturday.

Also, the blackout partially disrupted the telecommunication system in the country. People from different cities and towns reported a massive drop in mobile phone signals.

Initial reports suggested that Guddu Thermal Power Plant’s power system developed a technical fault.

“This caused tripping of high transmission nationwide and brought down the system frequency from 50 to zero in less than one second. The drop infrequency caused tripping of power stations nationwide,” Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan posted on his official Twitter handle on Saturday.

On Sunday night, a spokesperson of K-Electric – the company that supplies power to Karachi –said power in major parts of the metropolis was restored around 8 am on Sunday.

A senior officer of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) said out of 550 electricity feeders, 225 had been energized, whereas power supply to 50 grid stations was restored.

The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) spokesman said normal temporary load-management of short duration has been started at different grid stations. “Uninterrupted power supply would start after complete normalization of the system,” he said.

According to Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) spokesperson, power supply has been restored to all grids of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, 50% of the feeders connected to such grid stations will be run on a rotation basis so that the system is not overloaded.

Load management is being done on different 11KV feeders in Peshawar, Mardan, Khyber, Swabi, Hazara 1, Hazara 2 and Swat circles. Power supply to all areas will be fully restored soon, he said.

The NTDC also constituted a four-member committee to probe into the reasons and facts leading to collapse of the power system and determine the responsibility. The committee would also suggest measures to prevent occurrence of such incidents in future.

“The committee is required to give its report within comprehensive findings, recommendations and way forward within 07 days,” said a statement.

Meanwhile, in view of a preliminary inquiry, the Central Power Generation Company suspended seven of its employees working under Plant Manager-III for negligence that caused the electricity failure.

Earlier in the day, Minister for Information Shibli Faraz and Minister for Energy Omar Ayub accused the past governments – particularly that of the PML-N – for not paying attention to upgrading the antiquated power distribution network and only focusing on increasing power generation capacity.

“Presently our power generation capacity is more than 36,000 MW but only 26,000MW could be distributed as the distribution system is not compatible with it. There are technical issues with the distribution system as it was not upgraded,” Shibli said, addressing a press conference.

However, he assured, a comprehensive plan is being pursued to upgrade the transmission system and to enhance power generation. “Matiari-Lahore power transmission line is near completion and it will be accomplished by March this year,” he added.

To a question, he said steps would be taken to avert such a situation in future after the findings of an inquiry unveil the reasons behind the breakdown.

Omar said power would be restored across the country within the next few hours. He said the countrywide blackout was caused due to a sudden plunge in the frequency in the power transmission system.

In this regard, the government has initiated work to change the transmission system stepwise as it invested Rs49 billion to improve the system. Matiari to Lahore 660kV HVDC Transmission Line Project is nearly completed and it would be operational in a couple of months, he added.

“The reason for the breakdown has not been ascertained yet. The technical fault occurred in a particular area” said Omar Ayub. He said the inquiry committee would probe into the issue.

“After submission of the inquiry report by the National Power Construction Corporation (NPCC), opinion would be sought from engineers and technical experts over the matter,” he added.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was also informed about the blackout and the prime minister instructed the concerned authorities to immediately start maintenance work and restore electricity.

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