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LAHORE: The Punjab government’s decision to abandon Demand Side Management (DSM) will lead to increase the cost of electricity generation due to operationalization of the high cost power plants, said power sector sources.

Already, the consumers are paying high energy cost in the shape of fuel price adjustment on their bills and the federal government is running from pillar to post to introduce a win-win situation. In the meantime, the Punjab government had decided to withdraw the decision of closing business centres, markets, super stores and shops at 9pm in early August.

Power sector sources said the Punjab government’s decision has left the federal government with no option but to obtain electricity from the high-cost power plants which were closed down in the presence of DSM plan.

They said closing down of shops by 9 pm was conserving 1800 megawatts electricity which could be augmented further by closing down operations of tube wells during the peak hours, switching off alternate street light points and roadside as well as the canal side illuminations besides disconnecting supplies to billboards on major arteries of the town.

It may be noted that the traders’ community was up in their arms against the PML-N government for observing DSM plan, which the government of Chaudhry Parvez Elahi withdrew soon after assuming charge of the affairs. The power sector sources said the Punjab government had played with the gallery by taking this decision which has proven a nightmare for the electricity consumers by and large.

Meanwhile, hundreds of the electricity consumers were found queuing up outside the sub-divisional offices around the city, seeking removal of FPA from bills after a restraining order passed by the Lahore High Court.

The sources said some of the offices were accommodating consumers without posting it online, which would appear in the shape of arrears in the next month’s bill. The purpose of this exercise is to offer installments in the bill under the garb of FPA removal from bills, they added.

They said the idea of FPA was floated back in 2010 to deal with the supply side issues when oil prices had jumped to $147 a barrel against $47 a barrel earlier.

However, the scheme was missing the exit clause that has resulted into strangulation of the electricity consumers, particularly the industrial ones for their failure to recover it on past and closed transactions with their buyers.

They said the PTI government had carried out a detailed study on the operational issues of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) under the Mohammad Ali Commission. However, the recommendations of this report could not see the daylight allegedly due to an intervention of former special assistant to prime minister on energy Tabish Gohar.

When asked about the solution, they said, the government should consider the option of carrying out rationing of electricity to deal with the high cost of generation without delay.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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