Centre, provinces owe Rs42.4bn to DISCOs, Senate told

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  • Minister says power generation companies have sustained a total loss of 79 million electricity units during the last two years

ISLAMABAD: Energy (Power Division) Minister Omar Ayub Khan on Friday informed the Senate that electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) have been directed to recover the outstanding dues of Rs42.453 billion from the federal and provincial governments by the end of this year.

The minister, in a written reply, told the upper house that an outstanding amount of Rs31.3 billion was to be recovered from the provinces. “Punjab still has to pay Rs6 billion, while Sindh owes Rs8 billion, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rs1 billion and Balochistan Rs14 billion,” he added.

He said that the power generation companies (GENCOs) had sustained a total loss of 0.079 billion units of electricity during the last two years, adding that the units of GENCOs were old with low design efficiency, therefore, these were kept mostly in a standby mode by the system operator.

“During the standby periods, auxiliary consumption mainly remained intact, resulting in the loss of electricity. GENCO power plants were operated on furnace oil and gas,” he informed. “Due to the limited availability of the said fuels during the last two years, power plants of GENCOs faced forced shutdowns which also resulted in the loss of electricity units.”

Some GENCO power stations such as Northern Power Generation Company in Multan, Steam Power Station in Faisalabad and Fluidized Bed Combustion (FBC) in Lakhra had been declared defunct or had been permanently shut down but necessary auxiliary was kept operative as per requirement of the shutdown units, the minister explained.

He said as the losses were purely technical, no individual was responsible for the loss of electricity units, therefore, no action was taken by the GENCOs.

He said the government was actively working to set up renewable energy projects, adding that the Saudi crown prince, during his visit to Pakistan, had announced to invest $4 billion in the energy power projects, including those of renewable energy.

Omar Ayub Khan further informed that 1,800MW power was being acquired from nuclear power plants in the country. “Nuclear safety standards of Pakistan are among the best in the world.”

The minister said that distribution companies have been instructed to improve the safety standards for workers by holding regular training sessions. Packages for the workers who fell victims to accidents have been increased while their children have been facilitated with jobs, he added.

The minister said the DISCOs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be bifurcated and investment would be made to improve grids and electricity supply system.

“Rs2.5 billion would be invested to acquire aerial bundled cable to upgrade the electricity distribution system while the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would spend $500 million on the development of Peshawar Electric Supply Company,” he stated.

The Senate was told that Rs20 billion were spent in one year on the maintenance of nuclear power plants in the country.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan on the occasion said Chashma Nuclear Power Project Unit 5 (C-5), having a capacity of 1,100MW, would be built at a cost of Rs492 billion in Kundian District, Mianwali, and is expected to be operational by August 2026.

He said the commercial contract for the nuclear power project (C-5) was signed on November 21, 2017.