No end to power outages till 2018: WAPDA

ISLAMABAD: Negating the tall claims of the government that it will overcome the power shortfall soon, the Water and Power Development Authority’s (WAPDA) Chairman, Shakeel Ahmed Durrani, said on Tuesday that complete elimination of electricity load shedding was not possible till 2018.While giving a briefing about mega hydel power projects to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Water and Power, which met at the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Ghulam Mustafa Shah, Durrani said because of unbalanced utilisation of power generation resources, load shedding could persist for the next six years.Durrani shocked the committee by informing it that the demand for power could rise to 130,000MW by year 2030, however, the federal government was committed to shifting over to power generation from hydel sources to overcome the power crisis. The WAPDA chairman maintained that Gilgit-Baltistan, with its rich hydel and thermal resources, has the capacity to generate 60,000 to 100,000MW of power, however, there is a need to explore and properly exploit these resources.Speaking on the Diamer-Basha Dam, he informed the committee that WAPDA planned to initiate test generation before regular production of electricity starts at the dam, while after completion of upraising and upgradation phase of Mangla Dam, power generation capacity would be increased by up to 15 percent. He said that water level in Mangla would increase to 1210 feet by the end of this year, a raise of 0.8 million acre feet in its storage capacity.

Briefing the committee about the massive difference in cost of thermal and hydel power generation, Durani said that thermal power generation costs Rs 10.18 per unit, 870 percent higher than power generated by hydel sources, which costs Rs 1.05 per unit. “Hydropower generation saved Rs 41 billion in 2010,” he revealed.Talking about the current status of Neelam Jhelum hydropower project, the WAPDA chairman said 16-kilometer-long tunnel of the project had been constructed. Committee member Sajjadul Hassan expressed dismay over the performance of state-owned power generation companies, saying that the power outage of 22 hours a day in his constituency was unacceptable. He threatened to torch Pakistan Electric Power Company’s (PEPCO) office in Okara if load shedding was not stopped.

Concerned WAPDA official informed the committee that the authority’s maximum generation capacity in peak hours hovered at around 13,669MW against a demand of about 18,114MW, leaving a gap of 4,445MW. A senior official from the concerned ministry maintained that about 600MW shortfall was caused by short supply of furnace oil, as only 20,000 tonnes of oil per day was being provided to generation companies and independent power producers against a demand of 28,000 tonnes. – Dailytimes