KARACHI: The Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) does not intend to lengthen the rolling blackouts even though the government has announced it is slashing Karachi’s power quota, said KESC spokesman Amir Abbasi. However, he said he has no clue as to how KESC will produce the extra power. Abbasi maintained that hospitals and industries will continue to be exempted from power cuts. But other decisions taken at the Energy Summit, such as two-day weekends and market closures at 8 pm would help conserve some electricty, Abbasi told The Express Tribune.
Federal Minister of Power and Water Raja Pervez Ashraf announced during the Energy Summit in Islamabad on Thursday that the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) would reduce the power supply to KESC by 350 megawatts. PEPCO was earlier providing KESC 600MW to 650MW. PEPCO officials believed that if KESC generated and distributed power from its own and other private and rental powerhouses, it would no longer need PEPCO’s supply.
The power minister has justified the decision by saying, “The decision has been taken because of the relatively stable power situation in Karachi and this will help other major cities of the country tackle the power crisis.” The KESC spokesman said the utility will continue the scheduled power outages lasting for three hours. The city is being supplied electricity by 51 per cent of its feeders. At present, KESC is providing 2,150MW of electricity to the metropolis but demand has crossed the 2,400MW mark. So the shortage is already 350MW and PEPCO’s decision to cut Karachi’s supply will double the shortage.
KESC will have to increase power outages by three to four hours, doubling their duration, if the gap between demand and supply crosses 500MW, said one senior engineer. “If the weather were pleasant and demand decreased, then only would load shedding last for one hour,” he explained. If the supply to Karachi is further reduced, power tariffs would increase, adding to the woes of the people, he said. “Decreasing the city’s power quota will not affect the prolonged power outages in the rest of the country. It might reduce the power cuts by a mere 30 minutes,” the official added. Officials also revealed that the utility has no alternative sources of power generation.
Currently, KESC is getting its supply from the Korangi thermal power station, Bin Qasim power station, Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), Tapal Energy Limited, Gul Ahmed Industries Limited and around 50MW from rental power projects. Meanwhile, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has condemned the decision and demanded President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani withdraw it. Speaking at an emergency press conference at the press club on Thursday, Nasreen Jalil, former city naib nazim, called the decision “anti-Karachi”, saying that it would severely affect the industries and trade in the city, which contribute over 70 per cent to the national exchequer.
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