Thursday September 28, 2023

Electricity from coal-based plants in Thar: Nepra grills NTDC over delay in laying transmission line

March 31, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on Thursday grilled the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) for failing in laying the transmission line to evacuate electricity from Thar coal-based power plants in Sindh, burdening the power consumers with tens of billions of rupees.

The Thar coalfield is one of the largest coal reserves in the world, with an estimated 175 billion tons of coal. Several coal-based power plants have been constructed in the Thar region. These power plants are part of the Pakistani government’s efforts to increase energy independence and reduce reliance on imported oil and gas.

Thar coal-based power generation is the third cheapest among as many as 124 power plants operating in Pakistan on fossil fuels, including gas, RLNG, and oil.

Nepra held public hearings on the petitions of the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) and K-Electric, which sought permission for recovering additional per unit charges from consumers on account of fuel charges adjustments (FCA) for February 2023.

Nepra Chairman Engineer Taseef H Farooqui presided over the proceeding, while the Authority’s members including Engineer Rafiq Ahmed Sheikh, Engineer Maqsood Anwar Khan, Mathar Niaz Rana and Amna Ahmed were also present in the hearing.

The Authority noted that NTDC’s slow progress over the projects and failure to lay transmission lines to evacuate electricity from Thar coal-based power plants could burden consumers with Rs80 billion.

The consumers of power distribution companies (Discos) may have some relief due to a reduction in electricity rates on account of the monthly fuel adjustment for February 2023. However, if the power regulator allows previous adjustments of Rs6.7 billion due to system constraints, the tariff will go up by Rs0.85 per unit.

Nepra expressed serious concerns and questioned why NTDC had not made proper planning and due diligence to lay transmission lines, keeping in view the timelines of Thar coal-based power plants.

NTDC officials said that two transmission lines were in place to evacuate 1,400MW of electricity, and two more lines would become operational in April to evacuate 2,400MW of electricity from Thar coal-based plants. CPPA had submitted a request for an increase of Rs0.85/unit on account of fuel adjustment for the month of February 2023. According to Nepra, the reduction amounts to Rs0.0006 per unit based on a preliminary analysis of the data. However, the hike could go up to Rs0.85/unit if NTDC is able to satisfy the authority on the adjustment.

It will be applicable for one month only and will apply to all customers of DISCOs except Lifeline and electric vehicle charging stations. It will also not apply to K-Electric consumers. The authority will issue its detailed decision after further scrutiny of the data. Similarly, on the petition of K-Electric, which sought an increase of Rs1.66/unit on account of FCA for February 2023, the authority held a public hearing. After the initial assessment of the data submitted by K-Electric, Nepra assessed that the increase in FCA for February is coming between Rs0.56 to Rs1.7 per unit. The final figure will be notified later. It will be applicable for one month only and will apply to all K-Electric customers except lifeline and electric vehicle charging stations. The authority will issue its detailed decision after further scrutiny of the data.