The large scale manufacturing sector is producing at
least 400Megawatt (MW) and requests for additional 350MW of electricity
for setting up captive power for self power generation is pending with
The growing trend of self power generation in the
large scale manufacturing sector, according to a leading industrialist,
is to ensure uninterrupted power supply at a cheaper price, as compared
to the supply and cost by the utility companies in Pakistan.
In fact the self power generation was allowed by the
government especially for the export-oriented industries which are
exporting at least 70 percent of their products. Most of the industries
which are producing power on their own resources belong to textile
sector. The power is being produced through gas-fired power plants.
Under a policy, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) is providing gas for
power generation to those industries which produce an export certificate
from Export Promotion Bureau and relevant associations of the trade
recommending for gas connections.
The sharp increase for power generation is also
indicative from the fact that SSGC has provided gas connections to 172
industries last year and is likely to provide gas to equal number of
industries during the current financial year.
Although the captive power plants have a positive
aspect of providing relief to the KESC, which faces an acute shortfall
in power generation because of ever growing demand for electricity.
At present KESC has an installed capacity of about
1750MW but produces not more than 1250MW against the demand of around
1850MW. The shortfall is met from various sources including WAPDA, Tapal,
Gul Ahmed, Pak Steel, KANUPP.
According to an estimate, KESC paid over Rs15.5
billion for purchase of power from these sources. The unfortunate
situation for KESC is that at one hands it pays heavily for purchase of
power, but on the other hand some 38 percent of the electricity is
stolen by illegal consumers through Kunda system. Currently, KESC is
taking effective measures against power theft by installing bulk meters
at the point of PMT which indicates how much power was supplied and how
much of units were billed in a particular area. Another effective
measures taken at a massive scale is the removal of the meters to
outside of the premises of the consumers. This step has also helped in
controlling the power theft and it is expected that when the entire
consumers number of 1.8 million were provided new meters the size of
power theft may further reduce drastically.
The government had inducted Army into the utility
company aiming at controlling the increasing transmission and
distribution losses both in KESC and WAPDA systems some three years ago.
However, the administrative steps taken by the management produced a
little difference as the trend of power continues despite all warnings
Looking deeply into the problem, one may find that
one of the major reasons for power theft in our culture is because of
the unaffordable electricity rates especially by the middle and low
income groups. On the contrary, the posh areas of the city as well as
moneyed people running comparatively smaller industrial units are on top
of the list of power theft.
In order to overcome the problem of short supply as
well as reducing the cost of electricity, more emphasis is being given
on hydel power, coal-fired power generation and also on gas-fired
systems as against the costly furnace oil which was the main factor for
pushing up the cost of power generation in Pakistan. Some of the
projects under this policy are coming up and the shifting of the major
portion of the electricity from fuel to other cheaper fuels may start
producing results in next two or three years. Currently, everybody both
in the private as well as in the public sector is talking about poverty
alleviation which has increased during last couple of years. Reduction
in poverty is on top of the present government's agenda. Since
electricity plays a key role from grassroot level to the high profile
segment of the society, an affordable price will certainly encourage
economic activity and ultimately help reducing poverty from this part of
Realizing the problem of high electricity prices, the
government instituted a task force for recommendation for reducing the
power rates in the country. Although power rates were reduced in paisas
in the past but experts were of the opinion that to make a visible
impact on the electricity, it is the government that should come forward
and reduce number of its levies on power consumption.
Essentially, electricity plays a vital role in
economic growth through investment in all segments of the economy
especially in the industrial sector. More economic activity means more
revenue, but unfortunately instead of buying this idea the economic
managers is using utilities as tax collecting agencies, probably under
the IMF conditions. People are attaching hope that since the government
has decided to say good buy to the IMF from next financial year, it may
take decisions for reducing taxes on power consumption in Pakistan.