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June 16, 2019

ADB agrees to assist in smart-metering of more distribution companies


June 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to conduct feasibility studies for installation of smart meters and aerial bundled cables to cut the losses of three state-run power distribution companies, a statement said on Saturday.

Werner Liepach, Asian Development Bank Director General for Central and West Asia gave this assurance in a meeting with Omar Ayub Khan, the federal minister for power and petroleum.

The statement quoted Liepach as saying that his bank was also ready to negotiate introducing smart metering infrastructure in the gas sector in order to make it more efficient and reduce its losses.

The ADB is already financing 80 percent of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)-metering projects in Pakistan’s two power distribution companies including Lahore Electric Supply Company and Islamabad Electric Supply Company -at the cost of $300 million and $188 million respectively.

The feasibilities for installation of AMI-metering and aerial bundled cables will be conducted in Peshawar Electric Supply Company, Hyderabad Electric Supply Company, and Sukkur Electric Power Company.

During the meeting Liepach lauded the recent developments in power sector and committed extending support to the sector in its various fields.

The official also informed the federal minister for power that the ADB was providing its assistance to various entities in energy sector and had initiated many projects in this regard.

The power minister thanked the Asian Development Bank for the continued support and provision of assistance to various entities in energy sector.

The minister said directions had already been given to all the entities to bring in international standards of transparency and quality in their projects to make these more beneficial for both the government and people of the country.

Khan said he would twice a month conduct review meetings on the progress of projects initiated in ADB’s assistance to ensure their timely completion besides removal of bottlenecks.

The high cost of generation, coupled with alarming transmission and distribution losses, is taking a toll on power sector.

With electric utilities and gas companies losses at 20 percent and 13 percent respectively, the total losses of energy sector amount to $3.28 billion.

This is in the face of a circular debt of Rs1.3 trillion, which may keep ballooning with an increase in energy supply and demand down the line.

Analysts say these losses can be reduced to half, saving the economy $1.64 billion annually.

It must be noted that there is a controversy in the power sector regarding the role of smart meters and in their project structure.

It is argued that smart meters at consumers’ premises would not be able to capture all kinds of theft, especially upstream of meters.

An alternative proposal is to install smart meters on distribution transformers which can identify defaulter regions at much lesser cost, covering all distribution companies in Pakistan.

Ms Xiaohong Yang, ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan, and senior officials of Power Division and the Asian Development Bank were also present during the meeting.

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