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January 10, 2015

Mismanagement behind power outages


January 10, 2015

Mismanagement and lack of planning have led to massive power outages in the country as people at the helm of affairs failed to take timely steps for increasing thermal output amid seasonal reduction in hydel generation, sources said on Friday.
The fuel availability for thermal power plants touched one of the lowest levels in the last week of December, 2014 when outflows from main dams started reducing due to annual canals closure for desilting campaign, sources said. The combined fuel availability for thermal plants was as low as 10,200 tons on December 25, 2014 as compared to 25,000 tons required to sufficiently reduce gap between electricity demand and supply, they maintained.
The power managers failed to plan effectively and could not arrange funds for fuel purchase and subsequent augmentation of thermal electricity generation as per demand. Consequently, the menace of unannounced outages, spanning over 1-2 hours reemerged, creating problems for masses. The daily power blackouts in urban areas are 8-10 hours while people living in rural areas are witnessing 14-16 hours outages.
It is known to almost everyone in power sector that outflows from dams used to reduce every year in late December and a remedial plan has to be in place for next about one and half months to increase thermal generation but nothing could have been done by the relevant departments, sources observed.
The power supply also got affected by the transmission glitches on Jan 08, 2015, shutting down several power generation plants one after another. National power grid witnessed such type of failure second time in less than a month, which is pretty unusual and a very bad sign as far as power affairs are concerned.
The third misstep by power manager was increasing outflows from main dams for power generation on Friday in a bid to make up power shortfall of thermal plants. However, sources said, this step could spark water shortage in the country. Just to produce more

hydropower, the outflow from Tarbela Dam at River Indus was increased to about 20,500 cusecs from 12,000 cusecs on January 9, 2015. Similarly, outflow from Mangla Dam at River Jhelum was increased to about 13,000 cusecs from 8,000 cusecs.
Sources said every excessive drop of water being released from dams is a waste as there is no need of water for irrigation purpose. In order to resolve problem, which started due to an earlier blunder, the power managers are committing yet another blunder, sources claimed.
Meanwhile, an official of National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) said that power generation which adversely affected by problems in transmission line have started to improve to normal levels. The power generation was recovered to 7,200 mw on Thursday night while another about 1,500 of mw was added today (Friday).
He informed that funds for purchase of fuel have also being provided. He added that fuel availability for thermal plants now being raised to 22,000 ton. He claimed that power supply situation would improve considerably in next couple of days.

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