Transmission system back to ‘normal’ after major power breakdown: Leghari

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Power Division Awais Leghari Wednesday claimed the transmission system had “returned to normal” after a major power breakdown in the country deprived most of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) of electricity earlier today.

Power supply to several cities, including Lahore, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Swat, Multan, Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh, remained suspended for several hours. The breakdown resulted from tripping of Guddu-Muzaffargarh power line, which led to faults at Tarbela and Guddu power stations, as well as other power plants, a spokesperson for Power Division said.

A spokesperson of the Atomic Energy Commission said the tripping of lines caused all four Chashma Nuclear Power Plants to trip as well causing a major power breakdown.

Around noon, the Power Division stated that electricity had completely been restored in Multan and 80 per cent of Islamabad, with restoration work underway. Its spokesperson said that Ghazi-Barotha hydel plant was also back online.

Speaking to Geo News, Leghari said that power supply was being restored in majority of areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

He said the breakdown resulted from a fault in power transmission line and it was not a shortfall.

“The [transmission] system returned to normal since 5:13pm,” the minister said, adding that it would take another one or two hours in complete restoration of power supply countrywide. He said that Wednesday’s situation did not affect power supply in Karachi.

Leghari further said the demand and supply of electricity was being controlled as per schedule since December 4.

Power breakdown affects hospitals, airport

Patients at Lahore’s Jinnah, Mayo, Gangaram, and Services hospitals faced immense difficulties in the wake of hours-long outage. Several operations were postponed, while medics were forced to conduct check-ups in Out Patient Departments (OPDs) in the dark.

Opposition members walking out of the Punjab Assembly today due to the power outage. Photo: Geo News

The proceedings of the Punjab Assembly were disturbed due to the power breakdown, with opposition members protesting against the government for its failure to fix the country’s power system.

The breakdown also affected the operations at the already-troubled New Islamabad International Airport.

Sources said the offices of airlines, baggage handling and the Airport Security Force base camp, among other areas, were devoid of power.

The loss of power also caused misery for patients and attendants at Rawalpindi’s Benazir Bhutto Hospital, with the public hospital’s generators also failing to give backup supply of electricity.

‘Industrial load-shedding in Punjab from today’

The spokesperson added that from today, industries in Punjab will also face load-shedding of 10 hours.

Reacting to the move, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association vowed to protest, saying only Punjab’s industries were being denied power for 10 hours a day.

The association said it would meet the finance minister today and then announce its next course of action.



Cost of CPEC coal power projects per MW 40pc higher

ISLAMABAD: The lowest ever price for one megawatt in the International Competitive Bidding (ICB) for Jamshoro coal power project of 1320MW headed by ADB has exposed the bitter fact how costly Port Qasim and Sahiwal coal power projects under CPEC coal projects, reveals the latest official document available with The News.

This has questioned the ability of authorities concerned who negotiated the PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) at higher prices with Chinese contractors for said coal power plants installed under CPEC umbrella.

The EPC per MW cost through recently held ICB for first phase of 660MW of Jamshoro power plant has been achieved at $0.578 million whereas the EPC cost of Port Qasim and Sahiwal coal power project per MW under CPEC coal projects is $1.21 million per MW showing that the cost of one MW of the said coal power plants under CPEC is 40 percent higher than that of Jamshoro coal power plant. The EPC cost is reflected in the final tariff.

This means that the said two coal power plants of 1320MW each under CPEC coal projects are getting unjustified Rs60 billion ($550 million) per annum due to over pricing of these projects, a senior official at Power Division told The News.

Nepra had extended the upfront tariff of 8.3 cents per unit for both Port Qasim and Sahiwal based on the inputs provided by PPIB (private power infrastructure board) and central power purchase agency (CPPA).“So, Nepra cannot be blamed for such a higher tariff.”

However, the expected tariff of Jamshoro coal power plant keeping its EPC cost of $0.578 million per MW will be around at 6.3 cents per unit. The official said the total production of Port Qasim and Sahiwal coal power plants stands at 18.7 billion unit in a year that will cost the consumers of Pakistan Rs231 billion.

Managing Director of PPIB Shah Jahan Mir, when contacted, said that Nepra has provided the upfront tariff of 8.3 cents per unit to both Port Qasim and Sahiwal coal power projects which was higher even than the tariff PPIB had proposed.

He said the PPAs cannot be reviewed unless and until the regulator feels that tariff needs to be reviewed based on new tangible facts. Former member Energy Planning Commission Shahid Sattar said that authorities in Pakistan needs to review the power purchase agreements (PPA) with the top management of both Port Qasim and Sahiwal coal power plants and bring down the tariffs of the said two projects as per international standards. He said that Pakistan’s authorities and the regulator should keep in view that country needs to bring down the cost of down business for competing the products of other economies in the international market.

The official said that the government of China holds competition in the country and then nominates the lowest bidding company for projects in Pakistan. Now, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has also made competition a necessary condition. Competition either under Nepra conditions or under Chinese government supervision, however, has not yielded required results of reasonable and fair costs.


Balochistan government working to meet energy requirements

ISLAMABAD: Balochistan government has taken effective steps to meet energy requirements in remote areas of the province.

An official of Provincial Energy Department told Radio Pakistan that several villages were being provided electricity in Kech district at a cost of Rs66 million to the government.

Similarly, solar energy system was set up in Pishin district at a cost of Rs53 million for water supply schemes.