Power outages hit Karachi as demand hits record high on sweltering first day of Ramazan

K-Electric using tight schedule of alternate outages to deal with gap between electricity supply and demand

Saad Hasan June 19, 2015
Men rest during Fajr at a mosque on the first day of Ramazan in Karachi. PHOTO: INP

KARACHI: The first day of the holy month of Ramazan turned out to be a testing one for Karachiites as temperatures soared to 40 degrees and electricity demand hit a record high of 3,100 megawatts.

Read: To spare domestic consumers in Ramazan, industry must suffer

And while the first fast did fall on a Friday with most government and private offices packing up by noon, an unusual absence of winds that usually blow into the city from sea has apparently pushed residents to switch on every available fan and air conditioner, officials say.

"We are trying to cope up with the situation as best as we can," said Usama Qureshi, spokesperson for K-Electric. "This is the record power demand we have seen."

The power utility is using its tight schedule of alternate outages to deal with the gap between electricity supply and demand. But areas, which normally remained exempted from outages, were also facing breakdowns due to excess consumption, which was causing the system to trip.

Pakistan Meteorological Department's Karachi region Director S. Sarfaraz said the intensity of the heat wave has increased due to a blockage in the sea breeze flowing into Karachi.

"A low air pressure has developed in North Arabian Sea that has dragged all the air into itself," he said. "I have never witnessed this happening in the third week of June."

But, he insisted, no conclusion about change in climate pattern should be deduced from this one isolated case. "We would need to study the record and then come up with a proper assessment."

He went on to add Karachi might remain under the grip of a heat wave for the next three days.

Read: Power cuts in Karachi

Unbearable heat has also taken toll on people who had to venture out for work, said Edhi's Anwar Kazmi. "Our ambulances had to tend to few cases in Mehmodabad and Landhi areas."

The water crisis has added to the miseries of residents of the port city where many small and big towns are facing shortages.


S.R.H. Hashmi | 6 years ago | Reply K-electric tells us that due to weather turning excessively hot, the electricity demand has increased tremendously, resulting in outages even in areas which were exempted from load-shedding. However, in Sector 18 of scheme 33, even before this heat wave, things were not much better and the area was subjected to three spells of load-shedding of two and a half hours each, with odd breakdowns of varying duration thrown in as bonus day and night. And this heat wave has only compounded the misery. However, what worries me is that with the passage of time, I had expected some improvement but actually, the situation this year is much worse than last year. And the way the graph is moving, perhaps next year will be worse still. Now, this takes the inconvenience, discomfort and frustration level much higher. And this way, the problem is not likely to be resolved ever. And explanations by K-electric are even more annoying. In response to the complaints for extra load-shedding, they say that it is not additional load-shedding. They claim that this is the time period spent on reinstating the system after it trips due to heavy use of illegal Kundas. However, whatever the cause, the consumers are left without electricity and it does no matter to them what technical terms K-electric uses for it. And even eliminating the illegal Kunda system is K-electric’s responsibility but instead of doing the actual work, the company thinks its job is done by running fancy advertisements on television. Letting the Kunda system continue despite K-electric having the capability to make the transmission lines kunda-proof is almost criminal negligence on its part for which it choses to punish the regular payers who have the misfortune of living near the Kunda-infested localities. In some localities, K-electric has managed to install kunda-proof transmission lines and have replaced Kundas with low-cost meters. What is needed is for the K-electric to do it at a much accelerated pace and not in the lethargic fashion that it has been doing it so far. With meters installed, people will know that they will have to pay according to their electricity usage and this may persuade them to economize, thus reducing the total consumption. I know replacing existing transmission lines with the Kunda-proof ones, and installing meters on a mass scale will be a costly affair. However, since this is a matter of public welfare, some bank or perhaps some international aid agency may grant K-electric a loan for this purpose with a long pay-back period and on low interest rates. The federal government has plans to eliminate load-shedding by the end of year 2017 by increasing electricity generation sufficiently. However, that will not automatically end K-electric load-shedding as well because the company gets a fixed load from the national grid which may not be increased as much as K-electric would like. Therefore, K-electric also needs to increase its own generating capacity to be able to end load-shedding a least by 2017. Perhaps it could seek a long term loan for this purpose as well. And what is most important is that K-electric needs to take remedial measures with a sense of urgency and not in a lethargic manner which has been the norm so far. Karachi
Ibs | 6 years ago | Reply Hassan Y actually proposed an excellent idea. Start the shift slowly, advertising companies should start installing solar panels and companies in Pakistan whoa advertise on those boards enjoy record profitability year after year so they won't have any problem paying. Not only that, it will be a marketing tool for the company, that we advertise on GREEN BOARDS that use solar power! Its a small move with BIG implications.
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