In another setback for the power-starved country, the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project on Wednesday was shut because of the closure of its head race tunnel, depriving the nation of 950MW of electricity.
The reasons for the closure of the tunnel are being ascertained, according to a statement issued by Wapda. Once the reasons are known, steps will be taken to reopen it, it added.
The hydropower station has been closed amid strict security. The closure of the power plant has been conveyed to all departments concerned through the water resources ministry, Wapda said.
With the closure of the power station, the country’s electricity shortfall has reached 7,324 MW.
Sources in the Power Division said the total power generation in the country stood at 21,622 MW against the demand of 28,946 MW.
They added that hydropower plants were generating 5,660 MW.
Government thermal plants were producing 1,670 MW while the private sector power plants again led by generating 10,900 MW.
Production from wind power plants stood at 900 MW and solar plants 111 MW.
Bagasse-based plants were producing 103 MW while the generation from nuclear fuel was 2,278 MW, the sources added.
The duration of countrywide power outages was up to 16 hours, and it was even longer in areas where the losses are very high.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Federal Energy Minister Khurram Dastagir said following the current rain spell, the electricity supply situation had improved as the Tarbela Dam was at its optimal production of 3,684 MW as against only 1100 MW at the start of the current month.
He further clarified that the cabinet had not yet approved the recommendation of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to increase the power tariff by Rs7.91.
He added that the tariff hike would be carried out in three phases.
“The coalition partners will decide the matter after Eid.”
The minister maintained that the power shortfall stood at an average of 5,000 MW.
He hoped that the situation would improve during the days of Eid.
He added that the complicated process of “refueling” the nuclear power plant in Karachi was under way.
“Another 1,100 MW of electricity will be added to the national grid after this process is completed, further reducing power outages in the country.”
He claimed that the rise in gas prices had affected the power production in the country.
The minister told journalists that there had progress in the import of coal from Afghanistan.
“An agreement for the import of coal from Afghanistan has been reached between the Afghan government and independent power producers.”
He added that a government delegation would visit Kabul after Eid for talks on coal import.
The government is constantly in touch with Afghanistan on the matter and soon our efforts will hopefully pay off.”
Dastagir claimed that an agreement had been signed with Afghanistan for the provision of coal for the Sahiwal power plant.
He added that the Afghan government had raised its tariff for coal and this matter would be taken up with it.
He further said Pakistan would make the payment to the neighbouring country in local currency.
The minister said in the power tariff rebasing, the lifeline consumers would be protected.
“The [PML-N-led] Punjab government has given subsidy to the consumers using upp to 100 units and hopefully other provinces would also follow suit.”
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