Senior Correspondent

Aug 06 - 12, 2007

S. M. Amjad, who has recently assumed the charge of KESC as its CEO, brought about the major upheavals KESC is going through at the moment in an interview with PAGE.

"Actually, we are tackling KESC in three different areas. First priority is of course is the power generation. Today we are confronted with a shortfall of around 1300 MW, in the face of a demand of about 2400MW but there is a suppressed demand too which is about 560MW that raises the demand to the level of 3000 MW.

Karachi's own generation capability (including KANUP, Gul Ahmed, Tapal and KESC itself) is about 1700 MW. If we just look at the shortfall of 700 MW ignoring the suppressed demand then part of that shortfall is met by WAPDA in an average about 600 MW, therefore Karachi faces load shedding as the remaining 200-250 MW electricity could not be met through any means.

The vision is to make Karachi stand on its feet on the power wise and not be dependent upon WAPDA in any case. In order to address the same cause, the new owners after taking over the organization realized and demanded that KESC should put up an additional power generation of around 780 MW from its own resources. Today we are raising funds for it through loans from different bodies. Today we have funds in place for 780 MW power generation plants which will be handled in two parts, which is 220 MW plant at Korangi and 560 MW plant at Bin Qasim.

The 220 MW project is already under construction. Out of five turbines, two have arrived and have been put up. Out of this 220 MW, we expect that 190 MW would come into production by March next year. The remaining will come at the end of the year. For the 560 MW project, the bids have undertaken and we expect that the contract would be awarded sometime this September. This plant will be ready by March 2010. In the short run, we will also get 80 MW from Defence Co-generation plant. By March next year we will have an additional 260 MW, that is 180 MW of our own and 80 MW from Co-Generation plant but our net gain could only be about 60 MW., because by the next year the demand would have once again risen to 2600 MW instead of this year's demand of 2400 MW and again we would be having a shortfall. In order to meet that shortage we are in a process of talking to people for short term rental sets of 200 MW to 300 MW. We are very hopeful that we will be able to arrange it by March next year and should everything happen in line, Karachi will not see the kind of load shedding it is facing this time around.

On an average the city electricity demand is rising on almost 8%. While pointing out the rising demand in electricity, he said that by 2011, Karachi's demand will be around 4200 MW. He also said that KESC is well aware that it doesn't have the resources to meet such an increase in demand and for that purpose we are talking to IPP's and KESC is aiming to make contracts with three other IPP's in the next twelve months for approximately 1500 MW of electricity which will come online by 2011. From 2012, Karachi will be needing on a cyclical basis around 300-355 MW electricity every year so despite KESC will be receiving 1500 MW from IPP's, it will then be needing to sort out other alternative sources to meet this growing demand.

About the network issue, he reiterated that many times electricity goes off due to network breakdown. This breakdown normally happens on two counts, overloading and tripping. Out of our 915 feeders we have 108 overloaded, well it may seem a small percentage but it is 75000 out of two million consumers we have so if any point in time we remained unable to supply electricity to these 75000 consumers and they started yelling 'no electricity' then it seems that the whole of Karachi is without electricity. Tripping also happens for a number of reasons, as normally when electricity goes off, people usually don't switched off their appliances and once the electricity comes back that cause a real surge on the network and make a system to trip. Depending on the kind of damage, it can be set right in ten minutes or it may take ten hours. Third reason for the breakdown is the damage that has been caused to our underground cables during the construction work, a lot of our cables are being pick axed. A huge area suffers through this pick axing. Also our cables could get destroyed by over heating etc so there are a number of reasons why breakdown happens. In order to solve the overloading and tripping problem, we have ordered thirteen new grid stations, from which one is complete, two are nearing completion. Once these grid stations come up, these will give way to our 915 feeders with an additional 120 new feeders and that will mean an enhancement in the LT network and with that we will be able to balance the load as none of our feeders will b overloaded after that. We are trying our best but I am afraid that there is no quick fix.

Mr. Amjad commended the efforts by WAPDA and said that KESC is not having any problem getting electricity from WAPDA and WPADA is very supportive during all these trouble days. He also said that a lot of alternatives are also under consideration and Alternative Energy Board is working on wind power but it also needs a huge capital expenditure so it will take time to come to surface.

On an average KESC is getting about 250 MW from different IPPs, if KANUP is also involved then it is around 300 MW. KANUP gives about 70 MW, Gul Ahmed and Tapal combined give about 226 MW and another small IPP gives about 15 MW.

In KESC's current year budget (July 2007-June 2008), the capital expenditure on Network is about fifteen billion rupees and KESC is looking at about 570 million dollars for its new 760 MW plants, this money will spend from now on till 2010.

KESC is also working on the human resource in order to make the communication network much better for consumers. On his message to the consumers, Mr. Amjad said that consumers can help by conserving, if they start saving electricity on a regular basis that will surely help KESC in one way or another. Apart from conserving whenever one increases the appliances in his house, he should take a look at what is the sanctioned load for the house, otherwise he should approach KESC people for help. For Ramadan, he said that we have what we have and we have to go with the same electricity that we have with us during this Ramadan.