Load-shedding challenge: Rs329bn is needed: Power Division

Power Division has sought additional resources of Rs 329 billion from the Finance Ministry to deal with load shedding, ranging from 8-14 hours a day across the country, as 5,739 MW electricity is not in the system due to unavailability of fuel.

Of Rs 329 billion, Power Division has sought Rs 108 billion by May 25, 2022, Rs 136 billion by June 7, 2022 and Rs 85 billion by June 15, 2022. The circular debt has already crossed Rs 2.460 trillion.

“Power plants of 5,739 MW are available but they cannot generate electricity due to non-availability of fuel as the previous government did not make arrangements in time,” said, the newly appointed Minister for Power, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan at his maiden press conference.

Minister of State for Power, Hashim Notezai was also present on the occasion.

“The crisis is due to non-availability of fuel and not generation capability,” Datigir added.

Minister further contended that if fuel had been available, the shortfall would not have been of this level. The demand which was 20,000 MW when first briefing was given to the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has now reached 23,000 MW due to sudden rise in temperature. At least 2,156 MW power is out of system due to technical faults or annual maintenance which could have been altered to another period with a good strategy.

“As I have joined the Cabinet I am facing triple crisis: fuel supply, efficiency creation and financial management of power sector,” said the minister.

He said load shedding duration will be reduced from May 1, 2022 but substantial relief will be in two weeks as RLNG and furnace oil are reaching the country in a few days, adding that all out efforts are being made in close coordination with Petroleum Division to arrange the required fuel as early as possible. He also hoped hydel generation will also improve due to ice melting.

Dastgir tasked to deal with load-shedding, circular debt

He said as industrial activity restarts after Eid holidays, additional resources of fuel will be available for power generation.

“Previous government continuously failed to ensure reliable supply due to its incompetence,” he added.

He maintained that steps have been taken at Discos level to ensure that the situation does not deteriorate further during the days of Eidul Fitr.

“Teams have been formed so that the situation does not get worse in the coming days. Holidays of power sector employees have been cancelled on the occasion of Eid and companies have been asked to ensure availability of extra transformers to meet any emergency situation,” Dastgir said.

Dastgir Khan further stated that Engro’s Thar-coal fired 300 MW power plants will also come into the system, along with other plants which are not in operation due to non-availability of fuel. Some IPPs like Rousch, Fauji and Nandipur and Faisalabad’s thermal power plant are closed due to criminal negligence since December 2021; and 760 MW RLNG-based power plants are on outage due to non-availability of fuel.

He said electricity generation and demand data will be released once a day as Power Division has taken this decision to provide accurate statistics to the people.

He maintained that the Power Division is also watching revenue targets of Discos and request will also be made to the law enforcement agencies to check power theft across the country.

Minister said that the incumbent government has also started preparations to deal with gas crisis in winter 2022-23.

The minister said that Power Division is reviewing the performance of Discos’ Boards on three counts: revenue collection, response to public and transparency in procurement.

He said the two proposals, i.e., new Boards and reconstitution of existing Boards are on the cards.

To a question, he said, huge amounts of IPPs payables are pending. Total financial impact of these liabilities is being determined and the figures will be reconciled at the time of budget exercise.

He said, new agreement with K-Electric has already been initialled and is at an advanced stage adding that as the pact is cleared from the Cabinet, the amounts of liabilities of government and KE will be finalized.

Condemning the incident at Masjid-e-Nabvi he said the claimants of the state of Madinah violated the sanctity of Medina on Thursday night adding that this was already foretold.

“Everyone saw their behaviour which is very sad. We want these issues to be kept within our borders. We did not respond in the language of the attack,” he said, thanking the Saudi government for taking notice.

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