Timely policies enhance power sector performance



Owing to prudent and timely policies implemented by the incumbent government, the performance of the power sector of the country has witnessed considerable improvements as indicated by the one-year performance record of the power division.
“The power sector revenues witnessed an increase of over Rs121 billion by overpowering line losses worth Rs16bn,” according to latest official data. Various areas witnessed significant improvement, especially after kicking off anti-power theft campaign in October 2018, including the introduction of smart meters and record distribution of 23,049MW of electricity through improved transmission network.
The incumbent government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan launched a number of initiatives to reform the power sector, besides making it self-sustaining. The initiatives include both administrative and technical measures pertaining to system augmentation and up-gradation.
The main focuses of these steps is to make electricity in the country affordable and available to all people.
A sum of Rs1.3 billion was recovered from 5,318 power thieves after registering 36,000 FIRs against them under anti power pilferage campaign. The distribution companies (DISCOs) were also given a target to recover Rs 8 billion from old receivables while freezing the receivable figures as they stood on Oct 31 last year.
The reduction in line losses has also lessened the burden on the distribution system due to removal of illegal connections. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project is being launched in the Lahore Electric Supply Company and Islamabad Electric Supply Company with the assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB) to overcome the problems of line losses and theft. The ADB has committed to provide $400 million for AMI project which is now ready for execution.
The Aerial Bundled Cable (ABC) is another project to control and pre-empt illegal connections through direct hooking, thereby controlling the menace of “Kundas” and reducing line losses in high loss areas. Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and Sukkur Electric Supply Company (SEPCO) have already started installation of ABC cables.
The most important step of the power division is drafting the Renewable Energy Policy, 2019, and circulated it to all stakeholders for their input. The policy will soon be brought before the cabinet for approval. As per the RE policy, it has been envisioned that by the year 2025, the share of renewable energy in the energy mix will be increased to 20 per cent from the existing 4 per cent and by 2030 it will be increased to 30 percent.
Tariff rationalization measures have helped in reducing the rising trend in circular debt. Arrangement of Rs200 billion from Islamic Sukuk has also helped in paying power sector dues and replacing expensive debt. The power division has chalked out a comprehensive plan to curtail growth in circular debt. Accordingly, after June 2019, the growth is to be reduced from Rs 38 billion to Rs26 billion per month.
By June next, year the growth will be brought to Rs 8 billion per month, while by December 2020 it will be brought to zero. The power division has been actively engaged with different working groups of friendly countries, especially China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Central Asian Republics, for exploring avenues of investment in the power sector.
Due to improved recovery and effective anti-theft campaign, the number of feeders where load-shedding due to losses is conducted has decreased significantly.
Even during peak summer where historically the losses were on the higher side and many feeders would come out of categories where zero load-shedding is implemented, this year due to continued watch and efforts the number has been increasing. The anti-corruption and anti-theft drive has shown positive effects on recovery of outstanding dues as well. It has motivated the consumers to pay the bills in time. DISCOs recovery has shown an improvement of 1pc since the launch of the campaign. A per the reforms plan, PESCO, Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), Multan Electric Supply Company (MEPCO) and Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) will be further bifurcated to bring improvement in their performance.
Under investment plan in power distribution companies (DISCOs), length of transmission lines of various feeders would be reduced to 20-25 kilometer which will not only help reduce lines losses but also end low voltage issue. Transmission line is also being upgraded adding that arrangements had been finalized for Matiari-Lahore Transmission line.—INP

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