ISLAMABAD: Eight months into power, the federal government has been unable to make any headway in restarting 20 power plants that have been out of commission due to non-availability of fuel, technical faults, and licence related issues.
The 20 power plants, which have the capacity to produce 5000MW of energy, have been closed since before the Sharif administration came to power under the banner of the PDM coalition government. Sources within the power sector have told Profit that the government has made very little effort to restart power generation in the 20 power plants despite the country being in the middle of a protracted energy shortage that goes back many months.
Four days after coming to power, the prime minister was briefed about at least 27 power plants having a combined generation capacity of more than 7,000 megawatts that were out of order due to technical problems or fuel shortages. In this meeting back in April, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who has also held the petroleum portfolio, pointed out that there was a complete lack of coordination among the petroleum and power divisions of the energy ministry and the matter should be addressed at the outset on priority instead of wasting time in the blame game.
Despite these early promises, the feeling within the power sector is that the attention which was required has not been given to the issue. The sources added that 1041MW Rousch power plant has been not producing electricity mainly due to non-allocation of Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) while Port Qasim power plant is not generating the power owing to costly fuel, they added.
Sharing details of power plants closed due to technical or other reasons, the sources said that total 3148 MW electricity of eight power generation plants is not being made part of the system due to technical reasons while ten (10) power plants with power generation capacity of 1763mw have stopped power production due to licence related issues from many months. They said that 969MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower plant had stopped production from July 05, 2022 ostensibly due to Tailrace Tunnel problem, while 246MW power plant of Muzaffargarh suspended power generation operation from July 1, 2019 and another 168MW power plant of Muzaffargarh went out of system from April 02, 2022. Similarly, power plants of Guddu Old and 249MW Guddu 747 (STG-16) are facing closure for a long time, said sources.
“These 20 power plants were all once known for performance but are all currently faced with closure due to some known and some unknown reasons. The restart of these plants could go a long way in resolving the country’s electricity shortage issue in an amicable manner,” said the source.
Shockingly, the ruling regime has so far not taken mentionable steps for the restoration of electricity supply from these 20 power plants of 5000MW by resolving their genuine issues in order to resolve the country’s current power shortage issue, said sources.
It is pertinent to mention that power consumers have been facing hours-long unannounced power outages and inflated electricity bills for a long time while closed power generation plants with zero power production are earning significant capacity charges. The present government in order to resolve the power shortage issue has so far found not keen and active in resolving the issue of those efficient power plants which have stopped production due to technical faults, costly fuel, licence related issues, etc.