Early harvest project of CPEC: Wind power plant near completion, but transmission line not ready

Published: May 10, 2017


ISLAMABAD: A 99-megawatt wind power project being developed in Sindh under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has suffered a setback as the existing transmission system lacks the capacity to carry this additional load.

Apart from this, the state-run power purchaser has threatened to slap penalty on project sponsors if the plant starts commercial production because the infrastructure is not ready, an official discloses.

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After being apprised of the delay, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry into the conduct of officials of the Ministry of Water and Power and allied companies to fix responsibility and hold the persons accountable. The project is already late and it will now be ready in June this year compared to the earlier deadline of September 2016.

Interestingly, the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) has threatened to impose a penalty if the plant starts production in June as the existing system is not capable of receiving electricity. In a high-level meeting held last month, Secretary to the Prime Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad revealed that United Energy Pakistan (UEP), an early harvest project of CPEC, had recently completed its 99MW wind power plant in Sindh and it wanted to set the commercial operation date by the first week of June following a test run.

However, since the grid station of the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC), which would transmit electricity from the wind project, was not yet completed, the supply of power through the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) would pose a threat to the company’s existing distribution system.

To make matters worse, the CPPA told the project management not to press for the beginning of commercial operations by June 2017 and if it happened, it would impose liquidity damages on the ground that the project was supposed to start production in September 2016.

“This was a case of sheer blackmailing as the ministry and all related bodies knew very well that the delay was caused by the double lease of land by the Sindh government and the matter was resolved on the intervention of Prime Minister’s Office in October 2016,” it was observed during the meeting.

Meeting participants also noted that although project sponsors repeatedly approached the CPPA for setting a new commercial operation date by June 2017, the agency kept the matter pending.

The NTDC also failed to complete the transmission infrastructure. The case clearly underlined the need for revisiting the plans to improve the transmission and distribution system and to carry out third-party validation, they added.

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The prime minister was of the view that the power ministry should have taken care of the issue of electricity transmission from the UEP plant. The role of NTDC and CPPA should also be investigated for not fulfilling their responsibility, he said.

The premier directed the water and power secretary to initiate an inquiry into the conduct of officials for fixing responsibility on those who caused the delay.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2017.

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