Load-shedding will not go down unless consumers start becoming more prudent in their use of electricity, the head of the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) said on Thursday, as citizens complained of increased power outages in the first few days of Ramazan.
The water and power minister claimed before Ramazan that there would be no load-shedding during sehar and iftar, but power outages were reported during these times from the first day of the holy month.
Lahore Electricity Supply Company (LESCO) officials said that this was forced load-shedding imposed by the Regional Control Centre because grids were overloaded. The RCC shuts the grids to protect against tripping. Lesco has never scheduled load shedding during Seher and Iftar timings, said a public relations officer for the company.
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Pepco Director General Ijaz Rafique Quraishi said that the major demand for electricity was for air conditioners and as long as citizens did not reduce consumption, load-shedding would continue.
“We have to shut the grid stations when the load is too high to protect them from damage. This results in load-shedding, especially in industrial areas. Until citizens take on the responsibility of decreasing usage at their ends, the situation will continue,” he said.
Lesco officials said there was a shortfall of around 1,000 MW and that there was six hours of load-shedding in urban areas and 11 hours in rural areas of the district. But in some parts of the city, there were power outages of 10 hours a day, and of up to 15 hours a day in the outskirts. Most of the city’s markets were deprived of electricity from 8 pm to 10 pm, the time for taraweeh prayers.
Apart from the increased hours, there were complaints that Lesco was not following a schedule of outages.
Usman Ahmad, a resident of Sanda, said that the lights had gone out each sehar for at least 30 minutes so far in Ramazan. He said that the outage from 8pm to 10pm made it difficult to offer Isha and taraweeh prayers. “Although many mosques are equipped with a UPS, it only works for an hour or so,” he said.
Another problem, he said, was that “we don’t know when the load-shedding will hit us.” He said the lights were also going out for longer. Before Ramazan, they went for an hour, but now each outage lasted between 90 minutes and two hours, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.