Monday June 27, 2022

PM Shehbaz Sharif orders end to power outages by May 1

Shehbaz Sharif directed authorities concerned to make a sustained and smooth mechanism of fuel supplies and advance planning for one month for the summer

April 27, 2022
Shopkeeper seen at his shop with no electricity. Photo: The News/File
Shopkeeper seen at his shop with no electricity. Photo: The News/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday directed authorities to end scheduled and unscheduled electricity loadshedding across the country by May 1.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has issued directives to end electricity loadshedding from May 1 after resolving all issues by April 30,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said. Shehbaz, who chaired a meeting at the Prime Minister's Secretariat, said people could not be in convenienced by loadshedding in the summer. Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Information Marriyum Aurengzeb and senior officials attended the meeting.

Shehbaz Sharif directed authorities concerned to make a sustained and smooth mechanism of fuel supplies and advance planning for one month for the summer. The Prime Minister also sought a long-term effective plan to end pilferage in loss-making power distribution companies. 

He sought a report on plans to end losses of feeders to distribution companies. He also took notice of complaints of an artificial shortage of diesel during crop harvesting and directed that those creating artificial shortages must be identified and punished. He directed authorities concerned to ensure uninterrupted supplies of diesel to farmers to operate their machinery. “The district administration in rural areas should make sure that farmers do not face any difficulty in getting diesel,” he added.

The meeting was informed that power generation had reached 18,500MW whereas the actual shortfall in terms of demand was 500-2,000MW. “Twenty out of 27 powerhouses, which had been shut for over a year, have been made functional and as a result power generation has increased. The previous government did not ensure timely provision of fuel to operate the powerhouses. Another factor behind the loadshedding is criminal negligence to timely repair and maintain the powerhouses,” the meeting was informed.

It was also briefed that the present government arranged for fuel in two weeks and the issue of loadshedding was also being addressed by increasing electricity generation. Shehbaz Sharif said the new policy to address the shortage of electricity was an “Eid gift” to the nation who had been suffering frequent power outages in the summer.

Munawar Hasan adds from Lahore: Power consumers are likely to brave record electricity shortfall till weekend amid projection of searing heat nearing 48-50C. It has been learnt that unconstrained peak power demand may shoot up to 26,000-27,000MW from current 25,000MW against the present generation of around 18,000MW amid unusually high mercury levels. Hence, it is feared that electricity deficit may exceed 7,500MW even after gradual increase in power generation to 19,000MW. Such widening shortfall in electricity demand and supply means 6-14 hours of power suspension till end of current month.In the last days of Holy month of Ramazan when power supply otherwise used to be as per demand, consumers may continue to face prolonged outages. Newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif who finally appointed Minister of Power after two weeks in power, vowed to end ongoing crippling power crisis not earlier than by the end of current month.

Commenting on the severe outages, Hammad Azhar, former energy minister, was of the view that issue of power supply was mishandled by incumbents by not diverting enough system gas to offset LNG defaults of PMLN contracts. This led to depletion of 200k tonnes of HFO rapidly. Then they panicked & bought priciest 4 spot LNGs all at once. Plus Sahiwal Coal not injected with enough liquidity."This issue of power loadshedding & diesel shortages was 100% avoidable. One has to realise that running a govt is much more than just photo ops or inaugurating projects completed by PTI govt. It requires diligence, planning & decisions based on data not knee jerk reactions," he observed.

When contacted, spokesperson of Ministry of Energy didn't comment about widening power demand and supply situation. However, another official claimed that power gap currently hovered around 5,000MW.