ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regula¬tory Authority (Nepra) has found K-Electric at fault for the ongoing power crisis in Karachi and asked the government to increase gas quota for the power utility to ease public sufferings.
At the conclusion of a three-day visit of its special investigation team to the port city, the regulator reviewed the investigation report and decided to initiate legal proceedings against the power utility for violations of various responsibilities, including non-utilisation of its full power generation capacity.
The investigation committee noted that the load management carried out by K-Electric was beyond its claims and in addition to loadshedding on account of gas curtailment. The KE network also experienced faults adding to the unplanned loadshedding hours due to its fragile distribution system.
At the same time, the regulator attributed the power crisis to lower gas availability than last year and asked the government, being a 24 per cent shareholder of KE, to increase gas supply to 190mmcfd (million cubic feet per day). It said the gas supply was 50-60mmcfd lower than last year against KE’s claim of about 100mmcfd.
Also asks govt to increase KE’s gas supply to 190mmcfd to ease public suffering; power firm says no immediate option to use alternative fuel
“Nepra took serious notice of the above-mentioned violations and decided to initiate legal proceedings against K-Electric,” said an annou¬ncement by the regulator.
Responding to the Nepra’s order, K-Electric’s spokesperson Sadia Dada said: “We await the full report on the subject but in our preliminary comments we feel that the advisory issued by Nepra to ensure 190mmcfd gas is made available to K-Electric it is a positive reinforcement which will certainly enable KE in restoring power supply to the city to routine.
“Based on information available in the statement it is pertinent to note that tariff on HSD (high speed diesel) is not determined. As already indicated in the statement, alternative fuel for gas-based plant has not been commissioned, therefore in the current state KE does not immediately have the option to use alternative fuel.”
Nepra said its five-member committee visited K-Electric from April 11 to 13 to investigate the unannounced loadshedding due to curtailment of gas supply by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to KE owing to which consumers were suffering badly.
The committee held detailed discussions with KE officials, inspected main power generation plants and grid stations and conducted surveys of the relevant areas for response of general public.
Based on the committee’s observations, Nepra has sent an advisory to the government which has three members on the KE board for immediate restoration of gas supply of 190mmcfd to KE by SSGC.
The committee noted that KE was receiving around 50-60mmcfd less gas in April, as compared to the same month last year, and the situation had worsened due to increase in power demand owing to early onset of summer.
The committee also noted that infrastructure for alternative fuel/HSD operation at both the gas turbine-based plants — Korangi Combined Cycle Power Plant (KCCPP-225MW) and Bin Qasim Power Station-II (BQPS-II-529MW) — was available, but the utility had not yet commissioned the capacity and “adopted an irresponsible approach in this regard. Had these systems been in place, about 350MW could have been added and additional loadshedding could have been avoided, the regulator said.
During the period under review i.e. March 27 till April 10, the committee noted underutilisation of BQPS-I during morning time, whereas it could have been operated at full capacity to minimise loadshedding. The committee further noted that average loading position of BQPS-I was only 647MW against the available capacity of 1015MW. Moreover, it was observed that Unit-2 of BQPS-I having the available capacity of 180MW was on unplanned outage since September 2017 which indicated KE’s poor maintenance plan.
Nepra directed K-Electric to immediately start the commissioning of KCCPP and BQPS-II on alternative fuel/HSD and complete it as early as possible. The regulator said it had also decided to acquire the Ramazan plan from K-Electric in order to comprehend the arrangements made by the utility to ensure uninterrupted power supply during Sehar and Iftar timings to the people of Karachi.
Earlier, the regulator had expressed its dissatisfaction over the positions submitted by KE about the power situation and appointed the five-member team for physical examination of the situation in Karachi and KE.
The special investigation team was led by Husnain Zaigham, senior adviser technical, and comprised Masood Akhtar, Hafiz Irfan Ahmad, Husnain Gohar and Junaid Ahmad.
K-Electric has been claiming that SSGC had cut 100mmcfd gas supply to it due to which the power utility suffered a 500MW of electricity shortfall, causing two to three hours of additional loadshedding.
The Sindh government has claimed that the people of Karachi are enduring 10 hours of loadshedding.
The two utilities have been in a dispute for almost three years over outstanding payments and reduced gas supplies. The SSGC had claimed gas shortages in its system and receivables worth Rs80 billion from KE and wanted a reduction in outstanding liabilities in case of KE’s transfer to Shanghai Electric Power Limited (SEPL) of China from the current management of Abraaj Capital.
The federal government has approved the issuance of a national security certificate for the sale of shares held by KES Power Ltd in K-Electric to SEPL.