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May 1, 2018

Outages return after surge in power demand


May 1, 2018

LAHORE: The rising power demand outpaced electricity generation on Monday, prompting managers to shut major supply lines for offsetting pressure on the national grid.

Owing to jump in electricity demand on the back of a wave of hot and dry weather across the country, forced outages returned to haunt people as government lacks handy and readily available power generation options due to non-commissioning of RLNG-based thermal power plants. The delays in commissioning of RLNG-based power projects to full capacity as well as unexpected upsurge in urban load have led to widespread power cuts across the country.

The spokesman of Power Division, Ministry of Energy, admitted that power was being suspended under a centralised system to avoid overloading of the power transmission system. There is some overloading and it is temporary, he claimed and hastened to add that this temporary tripping of system has been gradually restored and now power supply resumed to normal levels. Efforts of our staff led to successfully avoiding collapse of national grid, the spokesman said.

Apart from power cuts due to load management plan, system up gradation and technical faults, abrupt suspension in power supply even at exempted feeders of up to 10 per cent losses started on Monday afternoon, leaving people high and dry for unspecified times amid scorching heat.

The record hot weather witnessed first time in this summer in fact peaked to 48C in Rahim Yar Khan in the Punjab province with Lahore sizzled at 44.4C. The mercury however reached to 50C in Jacobabad, Shaheed Benazirabad districts in Sindh province followed by 49C recorded in Larkana, Moenjodaro, and Sukkur.

With jump in hot and dry weather, power demand also increased to over 21,000mw for the first time this summer while generation faltered at around 17,850mw. An official of Lahore Electricity Supply Company (LESCO) said that system demand in the distribution company surged to 3,800mw while average supply remained around 3,500mw. He acknowledged that dip in power generation against rising demand have resulted in shutting down of grids through centralised system to avoid collapse of power transmission system.

Talking about cause of system failures, official sources acknowledged that delay in commissioning of RLNG-based power plants to maximum capacity near load centres in the Punjab province have flopped government’s endeavor to minimise outages ahead of generation elections. In fact, the unresolved issues relating combined cycle of these plants have lingered too much, said an official on the condition of anonymity. This delay has been one of the major reasons in outpacing of electricity generation by the demand, he observed.

On the other hand, Wapda’s under trail unit of Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project contributed 242.5MW to national grid during peak demand. This unit is expected to start power generation on commercial basis in next a few days.

Meanwhile, as per load management summary of 29th April 2018, released on Monday, out of total 8,620 feeders across country excluding KE, 7,182 feeders remained within schedule load management, which includes 4,770 feeders where zero load management was observed, 181 feeders in category-I remained under fault/PTWs while 9 feeders of this category breached the schedule. As many as 1,091 feeders from category-II & II observed load management of two hours while 107 feeders of these two categories remained under PTWS/Faults while 33 feeders remained out of schedule.

A total 520 feeders remained under fault or PTWs and on 241 feeders approved work for maintenance was conducted while 152 feeders across the country remained in the out of scheduled category.

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