Thursday December 08, 2022

Study suggests proper electricity billing system in merged areas

By Bureau report
October 20, 2022

PESHAWAR: A majority of people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s merged areas are willing to pay for electricity supply if it is reliable and if power outages follow a short, fixed schedule, a recent research study found.

Conducted with support from the US government, through US Agency for International Development (USAID), and technical assistance from the Merged Areas Governance Project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the study is part of the KP government’s Special Emphasis Programme on increasing electricity access in the merged districts.

The study was aimed at assessing the willingness to pay for electricity among the residents who currently receive electricity for only four hours a day, on average. The study was launched at an event where experts from the energy sector discussed innovative solutions based on the research findings.

“The US government has been a proud partner of the government of Pakistan in the energy sector since the 1960s. We are committed to working with the KP government and development partners to address the power crisis,” said Rachel Grant, Acting Director of USAID Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial office.

According to the findings, 88 per cent of the respondents had access to electricity infrastructure but no power supply.

The study also revealed that people connected to the grid were not receiving electric bills, signifying the need to establish a proper billing system, and increase the ground presence of the transmission and distribution sector, which would help the residents get accustomed to paying for electricity.

It is noteworthy that the provincial government’s exemption from payment of electricity bills for merged districts’ residents ends next year.

The research said that most of the respondents preferred schemes under which solar panels would be installed in their villages, indicating that off-grid energy solutions may prove cost and energy-efficient in the long run.

“Our research suggests a possible way forward both for reliably providing the people of the merged areas with electricity and for connecting some of the most marginalised communities. The proposed system aims for electric supply is not only reliable but also affordable,” said Knut Ostby, Resident Representative at UNDP Pakistan.