Jan 21 - 27, 2008

Monopolistic stances maintained by state run power distribution companies across the nation in a nutshell are apocalypse to rundown, obsolete, and turmoil-shaken power distribution infrastructure, which is a gospel readily condoned over. That huge investment is required for overhauling and often entire replacement of the infrastructure has been comprehensive and fairly understandable by government quarters and economic mangers. And, according to a foreign expert the correction would take at least three years to produce desirable results. Even then government demonstrates its least concerns in taking step ahead of signing accords with aspiring investors. In retrospection, we would come across many instances when inter nations consensus were made to develop synergy in electricity production and cooperation in relation to transmission of generated power electricity. But, for one reason or another nothing in reality has so far been witnessed. Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh once have unanimously considered setting up South Asian Energy Grid for the benefit of the region. The grid under consideration could have a potential to utilize hydra resources of Nepal, Bhutan, and North Eastern India, large gas reserves of Bangladesh and surplus thermal power generation in Pakistan through exchange of electricity. A decade ago China expressed its interest to set up power generation "makeshift" plant at one of the nation's coast. Then again a moratorium prevailed on to create a deadlock situation. Worked well beyond Asia, most of the continental United States and Canada are served by two asynchronous power grid systems. In Europe, three large transitional power grids are functioning very well. One such power grid system spans eleven western and southern European countries namely Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain, and Switzerland. While open economy and deregulation regime, which have been applied mainly on all sectors in Pakistan, it is imprudent to wait any further for introducing free-market economy concept in power distribution sector. Stand alone power distribution network would never be in a position to improve efficacy in operation and obviate regular network failure. Until they get supports from other private stakeholders of power sector in course of power transmission nationwide, futile would be any effort to enhance generation capacity. Recently, KESC attributed load shedding to shutdown of KANUPP power supply of around 90 mega watts while total city's consumption accounts for sixteen and seventeen hundreds mega watts.

Pakistan's Energy Intensity: According to a report, Pakistan's Energy Intensity that is energy generated per dollar spent is high due to inefficiencies of the state-run power sector in generating electricity and transmitting it across the national grid. Poor quality infrastructure means that Pakistan does not generate and transmit the amount of electricity it needs to, necessitating hovering blackouts in some areas. A senior spokesperson of the KANUPP while talking to this scribe said it had disconnected power supply due to tripping of the transmission lines connecting it to the KESC grid. Unless directed by the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), we cannot restart supply because of safety precautions. He said KANUPP has suffered 11 shut-downs during 2007 due to failure of the transmission lines. This is one of the highest shutdown rates as compared to other nuclear power plants being operated in western countries. "Only 0.1 times in a year this grid block is registered in a well-equipped nuclear power plant," he informed. Therefore, PNRA strictly warned PAEC that KANUPP would not be allowed to operate if the reliability of the transmission lines would not be ensured. Losses of million of rupees are caused due to the reactor closure. Additionally, trips transferring shockwaves to the rector sometimes dismantle sophisticated equipments and parts. In the backdrop of foreign anguish over our nuclear power operation, we can not afford to have budget expansion in relation to operational losses. This plant was built in assistance with Canada and since then we are under martinet international surveillance despite the fact that our power plant is only capable of producing energy. The plant is completely dependent on government funds. He also revealed government plan to extend nuclear power generation capacity to 2600 MW. This would be done by setting up few other plants in Karachi. "If present infrastructure can not sustain 90 MW load, how over load would be managed," he enquired. As per international law, power producer supplies electricity to a predefined grid; in our case, the grid is installed at plant's site and KESC is entirely responsible to carry supply on wards. "It obliges the power distributor to rectify any problem in transmission system." Rehabilitation of the transmission lines was one of the actions in the improvement plan prepared by KESC. When the scribe contacted spokesperson of the KESC to know reasons behind shut down, he kept tight-lipped. However, it is reported that rehabilitation of one of the lines has been completed and work on the second line was started early this month. Whereas, according to KANUPP's spokesperson, repairs might be completed by early February.

Intermittent power shut downs besides hamper momentum of industrial and trade activities, they render in aggregation colossal financial loss to non-commercial properties. Exerting complete control over electricity distribution network and logically cognizant of impressing work-overloads, WAPDA and KESC are both meeting power needs of significant numbers of population. Notably, the ever-stretch needs are projected to grow at the rate of 7% per annum during 1993-2010. Not only will the increase in income level bring about higher consumption of electricity, but also electrification of areas yet to have access to electric power shall cause a substantial increase in consumption.

In a certain time period even if private investors come forward to renovate power distribution network of the country, outcomes would possibly be achievable in long term. Perhaps, the realization would be a daunting task to be shaped in full forms in years. On short term basis and for staving off further entangles, however, new colonies and settlements all around the country will be used models for installing privately-run electricity power distribution network. In this regard government policy makers should chalk out a well defined plan to trawl and attract potential investments.