Centre, Sindh in talks on HESCO control

Power minister hopes to see 1,000 MW solar energy added to system by next year

Z Ali August 29, 2022


The Federal Water and Power Minister Khurram Dastgir has said the Center has been negotiating with the Sindh government the management transfer of Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) and Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO).

"If these companies go to the provincial government, a direct pressure of the consumers will be created on these companies [to perform]," Dastgir said at a press conference at his camp office in Hyderabad.

Until now the federal government has been footing the bill for the financial losses in the shape of circular debt sustained by HESCO and SEPCO. "The tariff is equal across the country owing to which the burden is put on the areas where the recovery is high for the line losses in the areas where the recoveries are low," he briefly elaborated.

The minister said that if the Centreand province are able to strike the deal, the latter will administratively control the two companies while the former will only be responsible for the billing. He said the 18th Constitutional amendment has allowed the provinces to operate the distribution companies (DISCOS).

Dastgir apprised that the coalition government in the center has made a decision to disallow establishment of any new power plant which was run on the imported fuel. Rather, he added, five indigenous sources of energy including coal, water, solar, wind and nuclear will be harnessed for the future power projects. He said that nuclear energy has already been reclassified as the renewable energy.

He expressed hope that Tharparkar's coal powered plants will start contributing 1,980 megawatt (MW) electricity to the national grid by the summer season next year. Moreover, he said, thousands of MW solar energy will also be added to the system by next year. "I was so happy to see the windmills in Thatta today," he said.

He informed that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is likely to announce a relief package for the flood and rain affected consumers of DISCOS by early next month. He, however, did not specify the form and extent of the said relief.

Dastgir announced that the consumers using 200 or less units of electricity per month will be exempted from payment of the electricity bills, adding that fresh amended bills of previous months are being issued to the consumers.

The last date of the payment of bills of July-August has also been extended to September 6. According to him, 54% consumers of the DISCOS fall in that slab of 200 or less units and an overwhelming majority of the consumers used just 300 or less units.

"The coming few weeks will be of an emergency situation. I have once again told the officers of the DISCOs to be ready for the upcoming challenges and also warned them that no lapse troubling the consumers will be tolerated," he told.

The minister met a delegation of Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) in his camp office in Hyderabad on Sunday and informed that he has directed HESCO to set up smart grid stations and a workshop for repair and maintenance of the transformers. He told them that 15 bucket mounted cranes will also be provided to HESCO.

The minister directed top officers of HESCO to address complaints of the traders and industrialists on priority. The HCCI's president Adeel Siddiqui complained to the minister that HESCO is not keeping pace with the growing population of Hyderabad and increasing commercial and industrial activities. "The growth warrants more feeders and grid stations in Hyderabad but sadly this isn't happening." He demanded express feeders for the industrial zones which are exempt from the load shedding.


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