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Power failures again!

  1. Power failures again!

Industrial estates suffer Rs 300 million loss per hour

By Syed M. Aslam
Oct 25 - 31, 1999

The unprecedented power failure which plunged Karachi into darkness in the wee hours of October 19 cost the country between Rs 2 to Rs 2.5 billion in production, revenue and wage-loss at all the four industrial estates of Karachi — SITE, North Karachi, F.B. Area and Landhi/Korangi— the chairman of the SITE Industrial Area, Majyd Aziz, said.

He said that the tripping of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation’s (KESC) transmission system and the resultant stoppage of its various power generation units disrupted all production activity in the industrial areas.

Majyd said that power failure causes a loss of about Rs 300 million per hour to the industrial estates in Karachi.

SITE Karachi is the single biggest industrial estate of Pakistan which houses 40 per cent of all the value-added textile industry of the country, he said. In addition, SITE industrial area alone contributes one-third of the total revenue from all sources in Pakistan plus contributes half of all industrial production in Karachi, he added.

The massive power breakdown which brought all industrial activities to a halt and woke people in the midst of an extremely humid night was caused by the tripping of a 220 kv KDA/Pipri West Transmission circuit No.1. This started a domino reaction— tripping of 22 kv Pipri West/Bin Qasim power station circuit No.; closure of 210 mw unit at KESC’s Bin Qasim power station; and tripping of 220 kv KDA/Jamshoro circuit No 1 and 2 to render the KESC/Wapda system desynchronized.

At the time the KESC was generating a total of 912 mw (720 mw and 120 mw at Bin Qasim and Korangi Thermal Stations respectively plus 472 mw from gas turbines at SITE and Korangi). It was also importing 508 mw from other sources including 255 mw from Wapda. The major power breakdown occurred as the Pipri West Grid and the 250 mv transformer no. 1 and 2 and 132 kv TPP circuit no. 1 and 2 tripped to disrupt power supply to all the KESC’s grids.

Annual Growth

Majyd said that the massive power breakdown in the biggest city of the country highlights the need for immediate long term measures to ensure smooth supply of power to the city through an alternative source besides Wapda. The power demand in Karachi, he said, is increasing at the rate of 8 per cent per annum or around 130 mw.

He said that importing power through Wapda which itself is buying power from Hubco, a private foreign consortium, puts heavy strain on the old and unmaintained transmission system which has become highly tripping-prone even for normal power load. In addition, the system has to put up with a much heavier load than the normal due to KESC’s heavy dependence on Wapda, he added.

Majyd stressed that instead of importing power through Wapda the KESC should make arrangements to buy power directly from Hubco whose generation plant is located just 20 kilometer from Baldia Town, a Karachi locality on the border of the Hub area of the Balochistan province.

This would not only help lessen the load on the transmission system needed to import power from Wapda by the KESC but would also be beneficial in many other ways, he said. For instance, it would help Hubco to increase its production capacity from 64 per cent at present which ultimately would help it cut its rate for the overall benefit of the power consumers, he added.

He said that Hubco has shown inclination to sell power to the KESC directly at the same or even lower rates than the Wapda. In addition Hubco is ready to invest in laying the 20 km transmission line to Baldia Town while KESC also has the resources to undertake the project, he added.

He said that he is not the only proponent of direct power purchase between Hubco and KESC but there are a number of other associations in Karachi who think that it is the only answer to avoid another massive power breakdown in future.

Sources told PAGE that KESC is importing a much bigger load than that of 255 mw which it said it was importing on the night of October 12 to burden an old and ill-maintained transmission system which is not able to bear such load. Another source said that it was importing a load as big as 450 mw which desynchronized the KESC/Wapda system.

For a city whose power demand is increasing at an average of 8 per cent every year and which has to depend on the existing IPPs for its needs the direct import without over-loading the KESC/Wapda system seems to make a sense.

A direct purchase agreement between Hubco and KESC will not only ensure a smooth flow of power for the benefit of all categories of power consumers in Karachi but will also help Hubco improve its capacity from current 64 per cent for the ultimate mutual benefit of both.