Steps to tide over power crisis discussed
ISLAMABAD: A four-member ministerial committee on power crisis concluded on Tuesday that about 2300MW of additional electricity could be produced by providing funding and natural gas and taking appropriate administrative measures to reduce the power shortfall which has gone up to 7000MW.
The committee, led by Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and comprising Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Kashmir Affairs Minister Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo and Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar, would submit the plan to the federal cabinet during its meeting on Wednesday.
To be presided over by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the cabinet will particularly take up the energy crisis as a special agenda item in view of coming elections and power shortfall amid rising temperatures.
A water and power ministry official who attended the meeting told Dawn that even though the committee was led by the finance minister, it was Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira who was conducting the proceedings in an aggressive manner. He told participants to prepare specific recommendations for the cabinet meeting so that loadshedding could be reduced.
The meeting was informed that about 2,300MW could be added to the system in the coming 8-10 days.
The main objective of the meeting was to review electricity production and demand situation, sudden increase in electricity demand and how to reduce shortfall. The meeting was informed that the total generation on Tuesday stood at 10600MW in the day which increased to 11000MW in peak hours. This included 1442MW of Wapda’s generation companies, 6111MW from private producers and nuclear power plants and 3076MW from hydel resources.
On the same day last year, the electricity generation had stood at 15,000MW and remained in the same band throughout May.
The meeting was informed that peak demand in these days hovered around 18,000-19000MW. Mr Kaira told the participants that non-operational units both in the public and private sector had to be brought into production, whether it required additional financing, additional gas supplies or coercive administrative measures where some producers might be using various excuses for keeping their plants unutilised to force the government for financing.
“We will have to take bold steps to make full use of generation capacity and the federal cabinet will approve these measures on Wednesday,” Mr Kaira was quoted as telling participants.
He expressed surprise as to why the energy committee did not consider increasing production even though it has been discussing circular debt and restructuring of power companies.
He particularly criticised power companies and the ministry of water and power for not adopting a proper load management formula and wanted to know under what principle the Lahore Electric Supply Company was provided electricity that was creating public unrest and providing an opportunity for the Punjab government to exploit the situation for political gains.
An official said the information minister asked the power companies to prepare a proper load management mechanism that could be made public and defended on principle of equity and fairness.
The official said the meeting considered providing additional funding to enable the public and private power producers to purchase fuel and use maximum capacity.
Mr Kaira said the finance ministry should make available additional funding on war footing and petroleum ministry should divert gas for power generation.
“And if required use of force to bring into production forced closure of private plants, the government would also not hesitate,” he said.
The finance minister agreed to provide the additional funding, but asked the ministry of water and power to come up with special proposals and funding requirements that could be considered by the federal cabinet.
The meeting directed the ministry of water and power and power companies to improve their bill recoveries to at least 90 per cent.