Major power breakdown hits country

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Transmission system back to normal after 8 hours: Leghari

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Minister for Power Division Awais Leghari Wednesday said the transmission system had “returned to normal” after a major power breakdown in the country which deprived most of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of electricity earlier Wednesday.
Power supply to several cities, including Lahore, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Swat, Multan, Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh, remained suspended for several hours. The breakdown resulted from tripping of Guddu-Muzaffargarh power line, which led to faults at Tarbela and Guddu power stations, as well as other power plants, a spokesperson for Power Division said.
“The [transmission] system returned to normal since 5:13pm,” the minister said, adding that it would take another one or two hours in complete restoration of power supply countrywide. He said that Wednesday’s situation did not affect power supply in Karachi.
Leghari further said the demand and supply of electricity was being controlled as per schedule since December 4.
According to a spokesperson for power division, the power stations remained shut due to the fault, leaving a major part of the country without power. He said the power plant developed a technical fault due to hot weather.
He said that Mangla, Ghazi Barotha, Tarbela have been connected with national grid. The gross production of electricity has reached 12000 MW, whereas, the process to restore power has been initiated.
The spokesperson said that the staff of National Power Control was busy eradicating the technical fault and power is expected to be restored soon.
The spokesman said the South system is working and there is no supply failure to Sindh and many parts of Balochistan. The situation is normalising in Islamabad as Mangla Dam has been attached to the National Grid, after which 12,000 megawatt production has been achieved, added the spokesperson.
According to the power plant officials, the sudden blackout due to technical difficulties affected Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Faisalabad, Sahiwal along with other cities in Punjab.
Power supply was suspended to Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan, Swat and Lakki Marwat.and other parts of KP. According to the water and power ministry, the electricity shortfall exceeded 7,000 megawatt once again. This leaves the production at 11,800 megawatt.
Meanwhile, Minister for Power Awais Leghari explained that Secretary Power Division himself is sitting in the National Power Control Centre in Islamabad to monitor the situation closely. As a result of the power breakdown, activities in hospitals, schools and offices were affected. The Punjab Assembly session in Lahore also got delayed. In Karachi, it will take another five days to fix the Bin Qasim power plant of K-Electric. The city is facing six-to-eight-hour long power cuts. An Islamabad Electric Supply Company official told media that the breakdown occurred when the Tarbela, Mangla and Ghazi Barotha power plants tripped, apparently due to faults in the main transmission line.
The Iesco official explained that the National Transmission and Despatch Company’s 500KV main transmission line had developed some faults due to which power supply from five distribution companies (Discos) in the north had been disrupted. Four nuclear power plants at Chashma also tripped due to tripping of main transmission line of Tarbela.
Attempts were made to restore the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) and succeeded 60 to 70 per cent, the Iesco official said, but then Mangla was energised and suspended again.
The Power Division spokesperson said that parts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi are being energised through power from the central and southern systems, and that power has been restored to 80pc of Islamabad. The 220KV Multan grid has been restored and gradual restoration of individual 132KV grids and 11KV feeders is in progress, he added. Water and Power Development Authority, Lahore, official Kausar Noor Solangi told the state-owned news service that electricity has been restored to parts of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Muzzafargarh, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Peshawar and Mardan.
A spokesman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission says that they would be re-connected to the national grid once fault in main transmission line is rectified, and that nuclear power plants take several hours to resume operation once they trip.
Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari told media that a probe will be launched to establish the causes of the breakdown. The Power Division has constituted an inquiry committee to look into the power breakdown. The committee, headed by the Additional Secretary of the Division Wasim Mukhtar, consists of three system experts, and will ascertain why the system failed, how effective the efforts to restore system were, and to make recommendations to avoid recurrence of such a situation in future.
Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Energy chairman Senator Fida Mohammad has decided to write a letter to the Minister for Energy and Secretary Power Division seeking clarification for the breakdown, adding that the facts and reasons behind the current breakdown must be brought to light. Majority of areas in Lahore, including the Punjab Assembly, experienced power failure causing lawmakers to abandon the session. Meanwhile, Benazir Hospital in Rawalpindi also saw chaos as patients and doctors faced hardships due to the prolonged power failure.
Other cities including Vehari, Sahiwal, Rahim Yar Khan, Kasur, Faisalabad were deprived of electric power, while parts of KP experienced a 10-minute breakdown. An official from the WAPDA told media that the supply was affected after an NTDC system tripped. “It will take a couple of hours to repair functions. The supply to grid stations will be gradually restored.”
“A single fault affects the entire power supply system from Karachi to Islamabad,” he added. Spokesperson for Peshawar Electric Supply Company Shaukat Afzal said an inquiry will be conducted to determine the reason for the fault. He added that all grid stations of the province were restored.
A spokesperson of the power division said that the protection system installed in the transmission system in Sindh and Balochistan had saved the provinces from power shut down.
Ministry of Energy maintained that damage to 500 KV supply line in Muzaffargarh resulted in the tripping of several power plants including Guddu and Tarbela. Meanwhile, National Power Control system adopted stance that the system went down due to low power frequency and the country would have suffered a blackout if the power was not cut off. The power production is below than the average. Due to shortage of fuel, thermal power plant is also producing electricity in stumpy amount. Consequently, the system tripped due to high demand and less production.