Why torturous load shedding despite excessive generation capacity?
It was the second fortnight of February this year when Tabish Gauhar, special assistant to the prime minister on power, told Reuters that Pakistan was producing more electricity than it needed.
“It’s true; we are producing much more (electricity) than we need”, he had said.
According to him, the country gets 64 per cent of its electricity from fossil fuels, with another 27 percent from hydropower, five percent from nuclear power and four per cent from renewables such as solar and wind.
Today during the scorching heat and humidity almost all regions are facing load shedding of various durations, making people cry.
The question is what has gone wrong because of which the country is experiencing power outages despite excessive production capacity left by the previous government? Who should be held responsible for this painful situation that has made lives difficult?
According to a media report, power companies have been compelled by unavoidable circumstances to apply forced power cuts ranging between 1,000MW and 2,000MW in peak hours. “This does not include revenue-based load-shedding of 2,500-4,000MW depending on how the relevant authorities are technically able to park shortages”.
The report quoted an official as saying: “We are not getting LNG (liquefied natural gas) supplies against firm demand and furnace oil supplies are not sufficient to run available power plants,”
In addition to this, power generation from Mangla Dam has dropped and from Tarbela Dam has not picked up as anticipated. Then a 1,300MW China-Hub Power plant was hit by lightning, depriving the system of this supply.
About 1,800-2,000MW capacity is said to be on forced outage for technical reasons.
The overall shortage of power supply in the system has hovers between 6000MW and 4000MW for the past couple of days.
Load management varies between two and five hours of intervals in urban areas and could go beyond 10 hours in high-loss rural areas.
“The load shedding period is kept as brief as possible and only in compelling conditions,” said an official, explaining that time-bound power cuts could not be applied in such unpredictable load and weather conditions.
Whatever the excuses it is the PTI’s novices who are responsible for the situation in the country is passing through. Had the top leadership appointed experienced and competent people against important positions the situation would have been totally different.
Only four months ago Prime Minister Imran Khan had sought resignation from his special assistant Nadeem Babar because of his failure to deal with the fuel crisis.
The ongoing load-shedding for such long spells is testimony that the system is not working properly. The opposition leaders will be justified in blasting the government for its inexperience, corruption or any other factor responsible for the prevailing situation.
Needless to point out that electricity available in the country is also unaffordable because of higher tariff. Not all people have the resources to pay the bill at the end of the month.
The government should meticulously review the situation and take necessary steps to give relief to the consumers. The tariff should be brought down to make it affordable for the common man.
At the same time it should seriously look into the offer made by the Pakistan Engineering Congress for cooperation to produce cheap electricity.
The PEC chief said at a recent ceremony in Multan that his organization can help provide electricity at a rate of Rs three per unit.
In case the PTI government failed to give relief to the masses, it would have to pay a heavy price in the next elections.