Power cuts return as shortfall touches 7,000MW

ISLAMABAD: Electricity consumers across the country had a bad day on Sunday, when the gap between the demand and supply kept fluctuating between 5,000 and 7,000 megawatts, resulting in extensive power cuts of seven to 10 hours.

The Ministry of Water and Power said the demand crossed 20,223MW at 8pm, compared to peak generation of 15,400 to 15,700MW, a shortfall of 4,786MW.

The shortfall reared its head as temperatures rose to 47 and 48 degrees Celsius in parts of Sindh and south Punjab, while major load centres such as Lahore, Karachi and the areas around Rawalpindi and Islamabad witnessed highs of 43, 37 and 36 degrees Celsius, respectively.

A ministry spokesperson said that Sunday was the first day in nearly a fortnight when scheduled load management was carried out, as distribution companies had been providing maximum supply to consumers over the past two weeks thanks to comparatively lower temperatures.

Soaring temperatures take demand above 20,000MW

The electricity shortfall on Sunday was generally higher than in the early days of May 2013, when it ranged between 4,000 and 6,000MW. But demand at the time was also lower by 2,000-3,000MW.

The spokesperson said load-shedding varied under different distribution companies, but the average remained within six to eight hours, excluding low-recovery and high-loss areas where longer power cuts were applied by the respective companies.

“There was not a single megawatt of forced load-shedding,” he said, adding that the distribution companies kept on announcing higher schedules for the supply gap where needed.

An official explained that after setting aside the seven per cent transmission and transformation losses and 19pc distribution loss, the total energy reaching the consumers based on official numbers would be around 11,600MW.

This meant the indicative shortfall went beyond 8,500MW, or about 12 hours of load-shedding on average, based on a thumb rule of a 700MW gap resulting in one hour of load-shedding.

It was a rare day for power sector engineers, since it started with a gap of almost 6,000MW, as generation stood at 13,800MW at 9am against a demand of 19,600MW.

This was mainly due to the closure of five old power plants at Guddu due to the non-availability of natural gas, leaving the 747MW project to generate about 680MW.

Two units of Hubco and one of Nandipur were on outage, while one unit each at the newly-inducted Bhikki and Haveli Bahadur Shah plants kept going in and out of the system because of incomplete testing issues.

An official said there was almost 1,000MW of unaccounted draw of generation by some distribution companies against their allocated shares, due to non-metering and communication gaps.

Reports from various parts of the country suggested six to eight hours of load-shedding in major urban centres and up to 18 hours in the rural areas.

Sources say the hydropower projects contributed a maximum of 4,280MW, while public-sector generation companies produced 2,877MW and independent power producers (IPPs) almost 8,300mw.

They said the hydropower stations were generating about 3,400MW in the morning, but reasonable water quantities were retained to maximise output to 4,280MW for peak demand. Production from public sector thermal plants and IPPs was also ramped up by 150MW and 600MW between the morning and peak evening time because of financial and fuel constraints.