Neelum Jhelum Plant to Resume Power Generation in July


After very year-long closure for the tunnel collapse, the 969-megawatt Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project would again start power generation in July. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) held two separate public hearings on Thursday on the increase in fuel charges for KE and ex-Wapda Distribution Companies (Discos) customers but failed to reach a decision. During the discussion on expensive power generation, NEPRA Chairman Tauseef H. Farooqui stated that the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project will be reopen on upcoming July, nearly a year after it was shut down due to tunnel collapse.

The Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) representatives testified at the hearing that the power generation cost was higher than the reference cost due to the lower availability of hydropower generation as the 969-MW plan remained closed. On another note, KE officials said they were in the process of negotiating a deal with the national grid for 2,600MW. The first 1,000MW would be firm, with the remaining 1,600MW available on an as-needed basis.

Currently, the KE is drawing approximately 1,100MW from the national grid but has had no legal protection for more than a decade. Certain higher-cost impacts, according to NEPRA members, were also caused by transmission system constraints. The regulator concluded that there would be no increase in FCA for Discos and an increase in FCA for KE of between 56 paisas and Rs. 1.07 per unit. NEPRA stated that the FCA for the Discos could be increased, but that a final decision would be made next week after verification of certain evidence and transmission constraints.

The hearings were also told that Discos and K-Electric had requested permission to charge their customers an additional Rs. 8.5 billion in fuel costs in April at rates of about 86 paisas and Rs. 1.66 per unit, respectively, for electricity consumed in February.

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