Power sector overhauling

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IN a bid to stem the line losses and put an end to corruption in the power sector, the federal cabinet on Tuesday approved drastic measures, including installation of advanced metering infrastructure and low-cost solar energy projects, to overhaul the existing electricity generation and distribution system.

A meeting of the cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, also approved steps to complete the ongoing census exercise, provide seeds to farmers for the wheat crop in collaboration with provinces, besides appointments in power distribution companies (Discos), and action against corrupt officials.

As energy shortages are assuming critical dimensions and tariffs of both electricity and gas are becoming unsustainable for all categories of the consumers, it is appreciable that the authorities concerned have started in terms of out-of-box solutions to address the challenge.

It is, indeed, worrying that the line losses stand at 7% besides rampant theft of power in different parts of the country and non-payment of dues by individual and influential consumers.

The decision to expand the advanced meters project to the entire country and installation of such meters on power transformers would hopefully help bring down line losses and power theft.

Other innovative ideas being considered include running the existing power units on solar energy during the day instead of using imported fuel for power generation, besides permission to the private investors to install 11kV feeders in the rural areas.

The cabinet decided to shift government-owned buildings to solar power to save fuel. A committee headed by Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif would devise a plan and submit recommendations for reforms in power distribution companies and one hopes it would take into account woes of the consumers vis-à-vis inflated and estimated bills mainly due to shortage of manpower and shirk work as well as corrupt practices in discos.

Upgradation and improvement of the transmission and distribution system should be given priority as the obsolete network is the main hurdle in the way of meaningful reforms.

 

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