Undue haste in starting power projects causes heavy losses

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Power Projects
They voice fear that if the new Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf administration does not step in immediately, the exchequer will suffer more losses and the national grid will lose thousands of megawatts of electricity. PHOTO:FILE
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HYDERABAD:  An unnecessary haste shown by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government to inaugurate power projects before the end of its tenure in May 2018 caused losses of billions of rupees to the public purse as the ruling party ignored the necessary standard operating procedures, industrial consumers say.

They voice fear that if the new Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf administration does not step in immediately, the exchequer will suffer more losses and the national grid will lose thousands of megawatts of electricity.

This can trigger excessive blackouts across the country, particularly in rural and far-off areas, and industrialists will encounter trouble in meeting production targets, especially for exports, they say. The PML-N government had decided to install two power generation plants in the Bin Qasim coastal area, which would produce 660MW each. The projects were completed at a cost of $1.98 billion.

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First unit was inaugurated in November 2017, about two months before the project completion date. The second unit was activated on April 25, 2018.

For electricity transmission, it was decided to lay in two phases a 174km-long 500-kilovolt transmission line from Port Qasim to Matiari. Under the plan, around 170 double-circuit signal towers were installed before November 2017.

Work on the second phase is going on for building the transmission line over 120 km with 350 signal towers.

However, the 55km-long transmission line has developed faults dozens of times since January 2018 and as a result both Port Qasim production units have stopped working several times.

According to an agreement, if power production units are shut because of a fault in the transmission line, the private-sector investor will receive a penalty of Rs700 million from the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC).

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The private-sector investor argues when standard operating procedures are not followed, the power production units could not be run smoothly, many of the parts are damaged and the company is forced to purchase new parts.

The private-sector company has sought a penalty of Rs5.6 billion for the closure of production units because of recurring faults in the transmission line.

(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on August 29th, 2018)

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