Jan 21 - 27, 2008

Load shedding during 2007 exceeded 4,000 MW as no major power project has been implemented during the last 25 years. Country's existing capacity of 17,600 MW has failed to respond to the ever growing energy demand pressure. Inefficient generating systems allow the national grid to operate at a maximum capacity of 80 per cent. We will be requiring another 7,700 MW of power during the next 3 to 5 years. The annual increase in demand shall be a minimum 1,400 MW. The late rearguard action energy projects are expected to go into production in a reasonably distant future. A 25,000 MW hydro project is expected to start work within next 5 to 6 years, whereas newly proposed 13 nuclear plants to generate 8,800 MW nuclear energy will be operative by 2020. WAPDA is bracing up to start work at Kurram Tungi, Gomal Zam and Munda Dams. KESC has also undertaken to add 780 MW generation capacity to its existing capacity of 1738 MW by the end of 2010. The Thar Coal 1,000 MW project is awaiting agreement on tariff which is being debated in the usual uncompromising style. There is a big gap between the bid and offer prices of 7.8 and 11 cents a unit. Let us see how long it takes to reach a settled agreement. Our faulty transmission system is our Achilles" heel as the resultant outages are a heavy burden on our meager energy resources. The parasitic influence of pilferage is also there to take a heavy toll. Recently, CDWP, the central development working party of planning commission has approved Rs.20 billion project for the enhancement and improvement of power transmission system. The benefits of this project will take quite some time to accrue.

A number of industrial units across the country have been denied gas and power supplies to force their closure. The dimensions of the crisis are huge and the window dressing sort of measures is disappointing. The 1998 and 2002 power policies have made little impact on the power sector investment scenario.


Besides the energy planners" failure to look into the future to correctly estimate the increase in the energy demand level and develop a proper mix of different types of energy most suited to the geographical and economic conditions of the country, the seasonal variation factor of WAPDA generation is also at the core of current power crisis. No doubt this variation factor is a function of seasonal and climatic changes dictated by the nature, yet the economic planning is name of the game of uncertainties.

The existing mix of WAPDA power generation is as follows:


Produced through steam turbo generators and gas turbines installed at different power stations in Sindh, Punjab and Balauchistan with indigenous gas and coal as the main fuel and furnace oil and high HSD as alternate fuel

4,664 MW


Produced from the water of Tarbela, Mangla and Warsak dams. Major generation coming from 14 units of Tarbela, 10 units of Mangla and 6 units of Warsak water reservoirs.

5,010 MW


Eighteen different IPPs operating in different parts of the country produce and sell to WAPDA power at rates prescribed in the power purchase agreement executed in terms of the 1994 and 2000 government power policies.
(Hubco and KAPCO are the leading IPPs).

6,297 MW


15,971 MW

The fluctuations in the water reservoir levels of the three dams are so pronounced that the hydel power output level varies between two extremes of 1,990 MW and 5,128 MW over the cycle of a year. The existing power crisis can be attributed to a good extent to this factor too.


Due to government's centralized generation and distribution policy, Karachi remains dependent on the supply level of power from WAPDA to KESC. Karachi laments a reduced supply from WAPDA that is 300 MW as against the agreed supply of 500 MW. If we take a look at WAPDA's latest daily report, both WAPDA and KESC would appear justified in their respective stances.


Total system demand


11,847 MW




1,584 MW



2,537 MW



4,880 MW

9,001 MW

Export to KESC


420 MW

This report also emphasizes the role of IPPs from whom WAPDA is forced to purchase power at higher rates. WAPDA claims that it can generate power @ Rs.2 per unit but thermal power generation projects were awarded to the private sector @ Rs.6 to 7 per unit. The huge variance in the unit cost is financed under duress by the end users of power. Karachi power crisis is the end product of a number of factors which need to be seen and handled in the right perspective. These factors are:

* Karachi has become a sprawling city virtually unable to absorb the mounting population pressure. In view of its individuality as a mega city, a separate independent power policy should be formulated for Karachi allowing it to launch rapid capacity expansion projects with ample funds support from the federation. The city planning also needs to be reviewed to allow for the population influx.

* KESC should be allowed access to long term cheap credit both foreign as well as domestic to enable it to improve its transmission and distribution systems and to go for capacity expansion / addition projects.

* Either KANUPP's existing capacity should be enhanced or full utilization ensured or a new unit for nuclear power generation be added.

* Pilferage factor should be eliminated by offering cheap connections at subsidized rates to below-the poverty-line pilferers and by showing no mercy to the affluent pilferers.

* Policies with monetary and fiscal incentives should be announced to attract private sector investment for setting up coal based power projects in Karachi.

Only measures with a long term view need to be considered to tackle the crisis. Directives for early closure of shops and markets will only serve to add new dimensions to the already aggravated situation.