Jan 28 - Feb 03, 2008

Karachi is getting under frequency power supply from WAPDA and that causes the feeders to trip which are then handled manually causing a delay in the overall power supply to the consumers. The following concern was none other than from Mr. S.M. Amjad, the CEO KESC who gave PAGE a detailed interview about what is happening in the city at the moment on account of KESC and its efforts.

On account of the recent country wide electricity crisis, he said that it arises out of the demand and supply gap that has widen up over a period of time, WAPDA got the advantage that it covers the area that is mostly rural concentrated and thus it can play around within its rural urban set up but KESC has not gotten that advantage as Karachi is the backbone of the country's economy and any major happening will result as a chaos in both print and electronic media in Karachi. Karachi also gotten hit as it is having an under frequency supply that is not on the scale of 49.5-50.5 hertz, hence causing feeders to trip frequently.

He pointed out that we need to have reserve and surplus energy which can work in many ways, it helps when we do the plan maintenance and forced outages, where we need those extra reserves, thus for both these situations we need to have spinning reserves so that if we shut one unit down, we should resume the crisis by switching on to those reserves.

If one takes Karachi on a stand alone basis minus WAPDA, last year our short fall was closed to a 1000 MW. WAPDA gave us 650 MW; our peak short fall was approx 300 MW that makes it close to a 1000 MW. Our then peak average demand excluding spikes was around 2650 MW, we supplied around 2350 MW, In Karachi the maximum we can produce on our own from KESC and IPP's efforts is 1700 MW.

REASON OF SYSTEM FAILURE: While elaborating on the reasons of the system failure, he said that fifteen years back KESC was exporting its power to WAPDA but due to the city expansion and no additional generation in power from 1996 onwards, our demand increases by 100% in eleven years time hence the gap become much wider and thus the whole system suffered because of it. Over a period of time part of our network become overloaded too, whether it is HT, EHT or LT. Last summers, it was very rare that more than 5% Karachi was out of electricity at any one point in time but when we have around 20 lac consumers those 5% means about a lac people and a lac customers means a million people.

He said that our whole system is not overloaded, we have for example around 940 11KVA feeders and if 118 are overloaded then it's still a huge figure. Out of 11000 PMTs, not all are overloaded but a very fair percentage is.

What KESC is doing at the moment is that it is trying to fill in the gap between both in the network and generation capabilities. Electricity generation and networking is a very time consuming process. It takes a lot of time for a plant to come to surface after getting an LOI from PPIB. Just to make a bankable feasibility, the consulting firms would take around 7-9 months time. Today the cost structure for different kind of power plants is that:











Karachi doesn't have a hydel project but a hydel project is also very cost intensive yet, it is very cheap to operate. The Neelam- Jehlum project started at around 1.5 billion dollar, today the project has consumed around 2.3 billion dollars, and I can't say how much it will cost till its final completion.

OVERHAULING INFRASTRUCTURE: In 2003, the government initiated a financial improvement plan for KESC, in which it laid out 13.5 billion rupees for network improvement and for refurbishing the existing plants. This money was made available in 2004 and a plan was made even before it gets privatized and a very small part of it executed before privatization but we are carried on with it. After privatization another 4.5 billion rupees came in from new owners for network improvement. What is happening today out of the money that we get, we are putting up 12 new grid stations which will give us 780 MVA in terms of power transformers aggregate. Today we have 52 grid stations, and the new 12 will add up a very decent percentage to the existing ones. All these grid stations will be available by Oct- Nov this year. As grid stations deals with EHT, on the transmission part we have two transmission networks, one is 132 KVA and another is 220 KVA. The 132 KVA ring man unit is complete, now we have the facility of back feeding. The 220 KVA is in the process and later ultimately we will switch on to the 220 KVA. The High Transmission (HT) 11KVA network is about 940 feeders; they take off from the grid stations and end up either on sub stations or on PMTs. Today we are in the process of laying something like 200 feeders, 84 are the replacements of existing feeders and 116 are the new feeders. The new feeders will share the load of the overloaded feeders. In addition to these 200 feeders, 152 more feeders will emanate partly out of grid stations and few new ones to share the load and transmission. So we are looking at about 30% increase in the number of feeders, each feeder in an average is about 3.5 Km. In the next six months, the addition in the LT network will be 2000 new PMTs for overloading and for new connections. We have decided on the firm and then in the nine months after that we will add up another 3000 PMTs then the PMT population will increase by 40-45%.

On the network side, this is what we are doing, it is time consuming, yet it is progressing. On the generation side, initially we were planning for 830 MW, but that didn't work out and it caused a delay of a year too. Today our 220 MW power plant is coming up quite fast and nicely. In one year time what we achieved is that we made arrangements for the 220 MW plant; in 13 months time, three turbines are up, fourth is on its way and we are very confident that by March 2008, the four open cycle turbines will be in operation. We are also working on preparing a switch yard and it will be ready within 3-4 weeks. We are also working out all options for another 560 MW plant and things are moving into positive direction and hopefully we would be able to get another 560 MW by 2010. We have also signed a rental contract for another 144 MW, but that 144 MW will take at least seven months to come online so for the first summers in Karachi, the 144 MW will not be available but for the second summers (Sept-Oct) it will be available inshallah. We are currently talking to three more firms to enhance our rental electricity as we are also looking at 2009 so we want to add another 300 MW in addition to that 144 MW.

Now the situation is that in the last summers, our peak shortfall is around 300 MW, we expect that the demand will increase by another 200 MW this summer as it is increasing at 8% per annum. What we have in store with us for our consumers compare to the last summer, there is an additional supply of approx 250 MW, 170MW of our own and 80MW from DHA cogeneration so these 250 MW is very certain. Then we are refurbishing our units and we hope to get additional 50 MW out of it. Hence these summers will be slightly better than the last summers, one is that we expect the shortage of 200 MW rather than 300 MW and now the major difference is the improved system.

LOOKING AHEAD: We are also looking for IPPs who would be working to put up a coal fired plants of a size of 1200-1500 MW by the year 2012-2013. We have limited reservoirs of gas and furnace oil is too expensive to opt for hence we are looking at the possibility of that coal fired plant where we can import coal on a cheap price and use it for our purposes. The imported coal will cost us 20% higher than the natural gas but it is much cheaper than furnace oil. Our Thar reserves are not coal, it is lignite and the lakhra reserves are not enough plus the transportation is a major issue so we are opting for imported coal.

Lastly I would like to say that Karachi was badly hit by the recent incidents of mayhem due to the critical situations and happenings, today new investors are not that keen to invest in, even we are having delay problems due to these incidents.

KESC on its own part will try to not to shut the power down to the industries but the commercial and residential areas have to pay the price of keeping the engine of the economy running. We also hope that Media through its messages to the public will make them aware that utilities like power needs to be handled and conserve carefully as in that way we can save a lot on account of our country's future.