Power firms deny forced outages

MEPCO, LESCO rule out unannounced load-shedding, overbilling in their areas


Zafar Bhutta July 25, 2020
The Lesco CEO said load-shedding was being done in areas covered by 31 feeders, which fell in category IV and V, having 40-60% losses. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

While ruling out forced load-shedding, Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) CEO Tahir Mahmood has accused parliamentarians of building pressure for transfer, posting and hiring of people on political grounds.

Earlier, Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi presided over a meeting and expressed dissatisfaction with Mepco’s performance.

The Mepco CEO replied that complaints against elected representatives were related to transfer, posting and hiring of people on political grounds.

He made the remarks at a public hearing conducted by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on excessive load-shedding and overbilling by Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) and Mepco.

The hearing was presided over by Nepra Chairman Tauseef Siddiqui and attended by all four members.

Both companies ruled out unannounced load-shedding and overbilling in their jurisdictions and claimed that there was load-shedding in areas covered by high-loss feeders under the government’s approved policy.

The Mepco CEO said there was no forced load-shedding in the company’s jurisdiction but points like Yousafwala grid (32 grid stations) where transformers were overloaded and 220 grid stations at Bahawalpur were facing constraints.

He said forced load-shedding was being done at these two points following the directives of National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC). He also spoke about another issue existing in Vehari, which was also related to NTDC.

Responding to a question, he said, “Multan is free of load-shedding but in areas where transformers are damaged, load-shedding is done.” However, some participants of the hearing challenged the CEO’s claim.

Speaking on the occasion, Lesco CEO Mujahid Chattha added that the words of load-shedding and overbilling were being misinterpreted and said the consumers who were receiving “deduction bills” claimed that they were being overbilled.

He said people called it load-shedding when supply was switched off for some time to rectify a fault or if some damage was done due to hailstorm.

During the hearing, one of the participants asked as to why power distribution companies were collecting PTV fee from consumers and if Nepra thought power companies should do that.

In response to the query, the Nepra chairman said it was not the right approach and the regulator had conveyed its concern over the issue to the right government forums.

Responding to a question regarding less electricity drawn in comparison to the allocated quota, Chattha said he had to draw electricity as per the company’s demand and not the allocated quota.

He said a small amount of quota was allocated over and above the demand of a distribution company for utilisation in case of high demand. The National Power Control Centre (NPCC) general manager also agreed with the CEO.

The Lesco CEO said load-shedding was being done in areas covered by 31 feeders, which fell in category IV and V, having 40-60% losses.

He said 55 feeders, where losses were less than 10%, were exempt from load-shedding. He added that 515 feeders had been allocated to industries. Lesco has reduced losses from 13.5% to 12.4%.

He said the company established 10 new 132-kilovolt grid stations to stabilise the system, in addition to the installation of 16 new transformers.

Lesco has also added 100 km of transmission lines and up-gradation of re-conducting of 50 kilometres of 132 KV transmission lines.

Lesco is the only distribution company where 56 KV system does not exist anywhere. There is no 11 KV feeder in Lesco where load-shedding is done.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2020.

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