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KARACHI: The provincial cabinet, expressing serious reservations on the decision of the federal cabinet which has unilaterally amended Alternate & Renewable Energy (ARE) Policy 2019 approved by the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and excluded several Sindh Government’s cheap alternate energy projects and included costly Hydro-power projects, decided to refer the matter to joint parliament.

“The federal cabinet or cabinet committee on energy is not competent to amend any policy approved by the CCI, therefore we would refer the matter to the joint parliament for discussion as we have already referred to the matter of census.”

This was stated by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while presiding over a cabinet meeting here at CM House on Thursday. The meeting was attended by all the provincial ministers, advisors, special assistants, chief secretary Mumtaz Shah, Chairperson P&D Shireen Narejo and concerned secretaries.

Minister Energy Imtiaz Shaikh briefing the cabinet said that NTDC had submitted Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP)-2047 in April 2020 based on certain assumption sets but it was withdrawn on the objections raised by the NEPRA. He added that after a public hearing, NEPRA directed NTDC to update the plan.

The Ministry of Energy (MoE) - Power Division, presented the IGCEP 2021-30 Assumption Set to Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) on April 20, 2021 and the same was approved on April 22, 2021.

The IGCEP 2021–30 was formulated based on the approved Assumption Set by CCoE, using generation planning tool, PLEXOS, by considering all the existing as well as committed and candidate power plants.

The meeting was told that the CCI in its 47th meeting approved the National Electricity Policy (NEP) on 21st June, 2021 mandating that the IGCEP 2021–30 Assumptions would be approved by the CCI. Accordingly, the Assumption Set was circulated among the provinces for the inputs/ comments so that the same may be processed/ considered.

The Sindh Energy department submitted its views/ comments as follows:

To include the impact of actual power load shedding. In addition to the federal government PSDP having the PC-I approved and funding secured (as of March 2021) the Provincial Public Sector Projects with PC-1 approved by the ECNEC shall also be considered such as the World Bank funded ‘Sindh Solar Energy Project’ for development of 400 MW Solar energy.

The government to government (G2G) Power Generation projects which are listed under Federal government’s international (bilateral or multilateral) must include CPEC commitments in provinces too.

The Power projects based on Thar Coal for which associated mining lease has been signed for large scale exploration of coal.

In addition to Wind, Solar, Bagasse enlisted in Category I & II of CCoE’s decision of April 4, 2019 the RE-plants of Category-III having Tariff awarded by NEPRA before the notification of ARE Policy, 2019 shall be included. The Sindh has five wind projects of cumulative capacity of 275 MW.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that his government believes that a CCoE or Federal Cabinet decision could unilaterally amend ARE Policy 2019 which was approved by the CCI. He added that the Hydro was not the part of ARE Policy 2019. “The scope of ARE Policy 2019 covers technologies such as biogas, biomass, energy from waste, geothermal, hydrogen, synthetic gas, ocean/ tidal wave energy, solar, storage technologies, wind and hybrid of all these technologies,” he elaborated.

The CM said that the Presumed unilateral inclusion of hydel power in the ARE Policy 2019 would destroy the whole structure of the policy which was based on least cost and competitive bidding principles. Therefore, separate policy and targets should be introduced for Hydro projects, he suggested.

The cabinet was told that in the 48th CCI meeting held on 6th September, 2021 in which Sindh government had categorically objected to the way and manner in which IGCEP was being proposed and how it would have the effect of ignoring the cheaper electricity options of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

It is pointed out that when the Sindh CM had raised the issue that ARE Policy 2019 was being amended through IGCEP 2021 whereby Hydel was being made part of RE whereas it was not part of RE in ARE Policy, 2019. It was shocking to note that the minutes of 48th meeting of CCI issued on September 13, 2021 erroneously mentioned that the decision to approve the controversial IGCEP was made unanimously despite objections raised by different provinces including Sindh.

The cabinet after thorough discussions and deliberations decided to refer the matter to the joint parliament as was referred to as the matter of census approval.

Procurement of buses: Minister Transport Awais Qadir shah told the cabinet that the chief minister has already allocated Rs8 billion in 2020-21 and Rs6.4 billion in 2021-22 for procurement of 250 Diesel Hybrid Electric Buses under Sindh Intra-district peoples Bus service Project for Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkano, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad.

The cabinet approved to award the project to the NRTC to procure the buses by December 2021 and invest Rs3 billion on the development of infrastructure such as establishment of Depots and bus stops and operate the buses.

The chief minister termed it good news for the people of the province, particularly of the city.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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