NEPRA calls for privitisation of DISCOs

Regulator refuses to rank distribution companies due to unreliable data

ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has called for the privatisation of distribution companies (DISCOs) as it issued their performance evaluation report 2019-20 (FY20), showing that neither of them had shown any distinguishable performance despite constant instructions and monitoring by the regulator.

According to the report, NEPRA reviewed the APRs for the year 2019-20, submitted by the distribution licensees on the basis of parameters including, Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses, recovery, System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI), System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), time frame for new connection, load shedding, nominal voltage, consumer complaints, safety, and fault rate.

Raising concerns over not taking measures to bring improvement in T&D losses in FY20, DISCOs contributed to a loss of around Rs59 billion due to their inefficiency in and Rs160 billion in recovery, the report states.

It said that none of the DISCOs except GEPCO and FESCO could meet the regulator’s expectations while QESCO, PESCO, SEPCO and HESCO have shown the worst performance among all.

About the time frame for new connection, NEPRA said that it is alarming that power demand is not being generated despite availability of ample generation in the country and non-provision of new connections to eligible consumers within the prescribed time frame is one of the factors contributing to less demand.

NEPRA has also raised serious reservations over the authenticity of data regarding load shedding being carried out by DISCOs in their service territories and said that although the duration of load shedding decreased in FY20 as compared to previous years, but it can be eliminated if DISCOs avail 100 per cent of their allocated quota of power.

Highlighting the conditions of complaint centers that NEPRA’s team witnessed during visits, the report expressed serious reservations over the data which shows that SEPCO did not receive a single complaint in a day in any of its complaint center.

Similarly, PESCO, QESCO, FESCO, MEPCO and HESCO also received only 2 to 3 complaints per day in each of their complaint centers during the whole year.

Stressing safety as most important parameter for measuring the performance of distribution companies, NEPRA regretted that around 160 fatal accidents involving employees and the general public occurred in a year due to power issues.

Furthermore, the report found that the data submitted by distribution companies was significantly fudged. So far, the regulator has initiated legal proceedings against MEPCO due to misreporting data and other misdemeanors regarding code of conduct.

It is pertinent to mention here that NEPRA has decided to abandon the exercise of ranking DISCOs based on performance till the time that reliable data is received. For this purpose, the regulator has initiated efforts to move DISCOs towards the adoption of AMI/AMR system.

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Ahmad Ahmadani
The author is a an investigative journalist at Profit. He can be reached at [email protected]
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