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KARACHI: The question whether K-Electric’s vision to turn Karachi into a ‘power surplus’ city by next year will translate into a reality has no clear answer as the power company is still depending heavily on external power sources, including the import from NTDC system. As per NEPRA’s state of industry report 2020, the total electricity generated by K-Electric (KE) through its own power plants stood at 10,358 GWh during FY 2019-20 as compared to 10,727 GWh generated during the preceding year, depicting a decrease of 369 GWh.

The NEPRA report also stated KE was not able to meet the demand at peak times. Even the surplus expected in 2022 would not be enough to operate KE system with prudent utility practices.

Pakistan Apparel Forum Chairman Javed Bilwani told Business Recorder that industries adjacent to residential colonies also face frequent power cuts, resulting into huge production losses. He said KE has failed to introduce a mechanism to justly treat “loyal” consumers and those who are indulged in power theft. Even areas exempted from load shedding are being subjected to prolonged power disruptions by KE under the guise of localized power faults – a process that takes hours for the restoration of electricity. Various city neighbourhoods particularly the slum areas are experiencing up to 9 hours load shedding in a day, despite the company has converted the lines into the kunda-resistant areal bundled cable (ABC).

On April 9, the federal government allowed K-Electric to draw an additional 450MWs of electricity from the national grid to ease the power woes of Karachi and to mitigate the supply-demand gap ahead of sizzling summer. This is an addition to the 650MW of electricity which KE has been receiving from the national grid for the last many years. The company is yet to sign a new power purchase agreement (PPA) for the additional power supply from the national grid.

Sources said KE’s transmission system is not able to lift additional electricity. The company has to come up with a huge investment plan in future. They said a dust storm that hit the city on Wednesday affected around 400 out of 1900 feeders.

Most recently, KE leadership met with members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and senior government officials. The government representatives indicated that the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) will be signed shortly, whereas the Terms of Reference (ToRs) document for arbitration of the long-standing dispute on payables will also be finalized in the next few days.

He said the first unit of 450mw of RNLG project will become functional in a couple of months, while the 2nd 450MW is expected to come online by the end of this year. He said KE has been investing in all three areas - generation, and transmission and distribution systems.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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