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ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on Wednesday asserted that the cost of hydel projects should be borne by those consumers (provinces) who use water for agriculture purposes and not electricity consumers.

This assertion was made by Chairman, Nepra, Tauseef H Farooqi at a public hearing, held on a petition of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) in which the latter sought modification in its generation licence for allocation of more electricity for its auxiliary consumption.

The Authority comprising, Chairman, Member Sindh and Member KP, raised serious questions on the performance of hydel projects with respect to power generation at a time when the entire country is facing outages of 10-15 hours and consumers are paying electricity cost of over Rs30 per unit.

“When reservoirs are built to store water and release for another purpose (agriculture) and electricity is a byproduct, then these should be designed as water projects from PSDP and cost of these projects should be borne by the consumers (provinces) who use water for agriculture,” said Chairman Nepra.

He further contended that as the projects are completed, Wapda should install additional infrastructure of electricity and receive payment on take and pay against supply of electricity, adding why were these projects established on take or pay basis, when the regulator has no control over them as electricity consumers long for higher supply.

‘Unavailability of water at right time in required quantity real threat to agriculture’

Chairman Nepra said that cost of these projects should be borne by those consumers (provinces) not the consumers whose electricity adding that electricity consumers should pay for electricity they use, and not on the cost of project.

Member KP, Maqsood Anwar Khan stated that some projects of Wapda are redundant since long like its Chitral project for which electricity is being imported.

Wapda officials requested Nepra Authority to allow increase in auxiliary consumption of 12 projects out of 22 projects as ten projects are not economically viable.

In response to a question, Wapda officials noted that Golan Gol Hydropower projects whose capacity is 107 MW is operating just on five megawatts.

Chairman Nepra disclosed that Golan Gol is getting payment at the rate of 95 per cent operation, and questioned why consumers are facing load shedding of 10 hours, 15 hours and 20 hours while Wapda is just explaining the reasons for the problems in its plants/projects.

Chairman Nepra suggested that the regulator would allow auxiliary consumption on net capacity instead of gross capacity which is already in place. Wapda representative showed support for the proposal of Chairman Nepra, proposing that Wapda projects be given same treatment which IPPs are enjoying.

Chairman Nepra stated that the government is about to introduce new terminology “secured outages” for which an application will be filed with the regulator soon.

The Authority also quizzed Wapda officials on operation scheme (head of water) for1530 MW Tarbela- V Extension. Wapda officials apprised the Authority that this project will operate for three months- May, June and July - however, presently, work on it is suspended due to tunnel issues. The plant factor of Tarbela –V will be 10.21 per cent.

Wapda officials explained that water is being released from tunnel for agriculture purpose but it is being wasted due to non-availability of power house, adding that the payback period of Tarbela-V will be 10.8 years.

Member Sindh proposed that Wapda should be given separate generation licence for each project but Chairman Nepra shot down the idea stating that recently Wapda raised $ 500 million from the international market on the basis of its financial health and in case of separate generation licence to each of its companies, it will not be good for the organisation. The Authority also heard arguments framed by the technical team.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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