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June 11, 2021

Electricity crisis continues: Govt fails to enhance power generation amid scorching heat

LAHORE: The power crisis is continuing across the country, as the government has failed to do enough to enhance electricity generation despite having surplus capacity amid scorching summer heat.

Unannounced loadshedding that gripped the country since Tuesday left masses annoyed as they feel outages have returned from nowhere to haunt them. Unannounced power suspension of up to three to five hours at many places during the last 72 hours made people’s lives miserable.

As the mercury starts rising, the demand for electricity also increases, but the power managers seem to be unprepared to meet the eventuality. A glitch in Tarbela Dam power tunnel exacerbated loadshedding further. Soon, the nation-wide gap between demand and electricity supply, recorded on Wednesday at 3,000 MW, soared to 6,000 MW plus on Thursday, causing extensive power cuts across the country.

Consumers have complained about frequent outages up to five hours a day in various localities of Lahore as well as in the other cities of the province. It is cynical on the part of the power managers, as they used to blame the previous government for having a surplus power laced with lofty capacity charges and now they find themselves in an awkward situation of little supplies to deal with peak summer load, said a perturbed consumer.

“If the government is bound to pay capacity charges round the year to enable such huge surplus generation of electricity in running condition, why these are not available to meet summer load,” a resident of Canal Road, Ali, asked.

Irfan, who lives in New Garden Town, was also wary of the energy crisis hitting hard consumers round the year in various forms. It is hard to understand why a country like Pakistan has been entangled in this vicious cycle. He said power failures had returned from nowhere as having surplus power was not only the last government's claim but the present government's curse about having costly surplus generation capacity.

If the present government fails to run these ready-to-generate power plants due to fuel shortage or liquidity issue, this crisis is surely man-made, he added. Not only Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) is facing the wrath of consumers, with a few exceptions, the power transmission and distribution system across the country is said to be under severe stress primarily due to low generation.

However, the Energy Ministry has a different view. It was officially admitted on Wednesday night that an average shortfall of 1,000MW had arisen in the last 24 hours due to rehabilitation in a major hydel plant and outages in a few thermal plants.

It seems that the federal government conceded the fact that there was no contingency plan in place to meet high summer power demand. “We are witnessing approximately 5-20 per cent more peak demand in power compared to last year. We added 1200MW to the national grid today (Thursday). Another 1000MW would be added tomorrow [Friday]. That should eliminate most problems,” Hammad Azhar, Minister for Energy, said on Thursday night in a post at a microblogging site.