Committee on Energy to devise plan for load-shedding during summer months

A high-level meeting has decided to constitute a cabinet sub-committee on energy under the chairmanship of Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir Khan to prepare a viable plan within ten days for load-shedding during the coming summer months.   

According to sources, the high level meeting was held on May 10, 2022 under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to analyze in detail the state of affairs of power sector and various cabinet members and officials of power division attended the meeting.

In this high-level meeting it was decided to constitute a cabinet sub-committee on energy under the chairmanship of Minister for Power to prepare a viable plan for load-shedding during the coming summer months and submit the plan within ten days mainly to strike a balance in the load-shedding duration in the urban and rural areas of the country.

“Cabinet Division has been directed to notify the cabinet sub-committee on energy,” said sources.

They added that this cabinet sub-committee on energy has been also tasked to present a new power policy in consultation with the provincial governments, with the objectives of greater reliance on renewable energy, use of provincial power generation potential, reducing red tapism in approval processes and use of off-grid innovative solution for Balochistan, within two weeks.

Sharing details of the decisions of the high-level meeting, the sources said that all power distribution companies (DISCOs) have been directed to comprehensively enhance their service delivery to the consumers. Similarly, it was decided that a ministerial committee on conservation will be established to consider and recommend measures to be taken for conservation of energy, water and food while the committee will present its first report within a month’s time. Furthermore, the committee will be notified by the cabinet division and will be provided secretarial support by the power division while the committee may include provincial representation and may co-opt any member/expert for technical guidance.

As per sources, the secretary power division while briefing the high level meeting on state of affairs of power sector has also asked to release Rs100 billion as additional supplementary grant to maintain the supply chain of coal and to pay imported coal-based IPPs against their overdue payables for timely procurement of the coal inventory. And, in case the required supplementary grant of Rs100 billion was not approved, further purchase of coal inventory would be suspended while disruption of the coal supply chain would result in stoppage of the IPPs (3900MW). Consequently, about two hours system-wide load-shedding would have to be scheduled in the month of June, three hours in July and four in August, said sources quoting Secretary power’s briefing to high-level meeting.

During discussion, various members of the federal cabinet were of the opinion that aiming for zero load-shedding was not plausible given the current financial crunch. The government should find a middle ground, which was financially affordable as well as would contain the load-shedding to a tolerable level for the general public. Furthermore, a balance must be struck between the scheduled electricity outages in the urban and rural areas. Currently, the duration of load-shedding in villages was much longer than in cities. The members also stressed on the need to ensure that there were no unscheduled load-shedding and the electricity outages were as announced.

It is further learnt from sources that cabinet members from Balochistan province highlighted that load-shedding in their province was in the vicinity of 12-14 hours in the cities and 13-20 hours in the rural areas, causing great hardship for the residents. The need for exploiting renewable energy options, such as solar, was understood. The issue of supply of electricity to Karachi Electric from the national grid was also raised. It was pointed out that only 850-900 MW was being supplied from the national grid against the commitment of supplying 1100MW .

The members also emphasized on the need for a clear future roadmap to rid the country from the menace of electricity outages. In this regard, improving the energy mix through increased reliance on green energy and exploitation of domestic resources, setting-up projects under PPP mode, replacing heads of DISCOs with capable professionals to improve service delivery and establishing a National Commission on Energy Conservation to stop wastage and inculcate awareness among general public, was suggested. The greater participation of the provinces in electricity generation was also emphasized, said sources.

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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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