The government is blowing the trumpet when it comes to power generation and for good reason. Pakistan is adding around 21000MW between FY17-22. The PM recently announced the country has already a power surplus heralding the end to chronic generation deficits.
But wait. There is still an elephant in the room. Actually two. Transmission and distribution. What good is all that power if there are no reliable means of transmission? How will circular debt be eliminated if the DISCOs are not able to recover from consumers?
Over the past year this column has highlighted the slow pace of work on transmission projects which has not helped eliminate the large number of grid constraints. The National Electric and Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) recently slapped Rs5 million fines on the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) due to non-compliance with the Performance Standards Transmission Rules 2005.
The regulator concluded after a thorough evaluation that the NTDC had violated the permissible voltage and frequency limits in 2013-14, although after lengthy legal proceedings the decision comes almost after three years.
According to the Nepra, the state-owned transmission company failed to maintain the required 220kv at the majority of the grid stations in various areas of the country. This was not an isolated incident and even the latest State of Industry Report 2016 confirms the poor situation of the grid network.
Recall that the statistics showed that out of a total of 33 auto transformers at 500/220 kV grid stations eight were found to be loaded above their rated capacity. Moreover, 72 percent of auto transformers at 220/132 kV were found to be loaded 80 percent above their rated capacity!
Rural areas have been facing the brunt of low voltage problems which is as bad as loadshedding in some cases. But even major cities such as Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar have been afflicted by the menace throughout the years. Consumers have opted to go for expensive voltage stabilizers in order to save their even more expensive electrical appliances from breaking down.
Another more recent example of the dilapidated state of the transmission sector was seen when the grid network collapsed due to heavy smog in Punjab, and the addition of more mega-watts than it could handle.
By its own estimates NTDC projects planned generation capability of almost 34000 MW by 2021 while the current transmission network can only support 18000 MW at best according to various energy experts. It is time to stop blowing the trumpet on generation and start focusing on fixing the transmission constraints being faced throughout the country.
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily