TAHIR BASHARAT CHEEMA The bipartisan Energy Summit called by the PM in late April 2010 could not have been held at a more opportune time. The drought-like condition that the metrological department had predicted for 2010 lowered power generation, the gap between supply and demand widened, and the heat wave that broke all previous records in the last 37 years made matters worse in the early part of the year. Of the total 13,500MW being generated by PEPCO, hydropower contributes 6,444MW, thus playing a very important part in load management. Due to supply and demand gap, around 9 to 11 hours of load management was being faced by the people, in addition to what is known as the forced loadshedding. Hence, the Energy Summit came up with momentous decisions. Among them were the adoption of conservation measures, plans to add generation capacity and financial measures to ensure sustainability in operations. The summit came up with a recovery plan and assumed full ownership of the policy, decisions taken at the summit and their implementation. The conservation measures included reduction of lights up to 50 percent in the Presidents and PMs Secretariats and all government offices. Furthermore, energy savers were to be introduced to replace the existing incandescent bulbs at the earliest. Ban on commercial decorative lights; staggering weekly holidays for industry; non-use of agriculture tubewells during peak hours; restricted use of banquet halls; and five working days a week for government departments were also decided. However, the most important of the decisions was the closure of markets at 8.00 pm daily. Immediate and short-term measures for capacity additions required availability of an additional 83 MMcfd gas for PEPCO to generate an additional 600 to 760MW, RFO for KESC to utilise 300MW of its dormant capacity, incentivised purchase of pre-COD test energy from the upcoming IPPs/RPPs, fast track addition of 1305MW from 10 IPPs by December 2010 and 605MW of Rental Power by the same date. The financial plan focused on prompt payment of unpaid power bills by the governments of Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhunkhawa, Balochistan and the AJK. The Ministry of Finance was directed to arrange for Rs116 billion including payments from the provincial governments to bailout the power sector from the financial crunch. The medium and long-term measures were aimed at mitigating the anticipated demand of 36,000MW by 2015. The measure to close markets at 8.00 pm, after its implementation from April 24, has proved most effective, signalling discipline in load management in the country. Besides, there have been other gains on the social plain. It has reduced the peak hour demands by 900 to 1100MW. This reduction and other conservation measures have resulted in the discontinuation of forced closure and ensured regular and uninterrupted supply for most of the industry. Where cuts have been made, it has been done so through a consultative process and consent of the industry. The closure of markets was an uphill task, made possible only with the resolute commitment of the provincial governments. It also helped inculcate positive social values in the society. Whereas the public in general has heaved a sigh of relief, there is some resistance from vested interests, though most of the commercial sector has pitched in positively. One hopes they will also shun opposition once they realise the benefits. The Shops and Commercial Establishments Ordinance was first enacted in 1963, consequently, both the opening and closing of the establishment and labour utilisation were channelised. The situation remained so till the 80s. After that unfortunately the law was flouted. This led to indiscipline, flouting of the labour laws, exploitation of the sales staff, complete change of cultural values and even increase in the crime rate. All these issues have been addressed by the recent decision of the closure of markets by 8.00 pm. This decision has been implemented in most parts of the country; however, resistance still persists in some areas. The antagonists of early closure argue that this leads to drop in sales and profitability. But they forget that discipline in all facets of life is important and absence thereof is bound to result in losses. The benefits of the closure at 8.00 pm outweigh the disadvantages. It has also helped to reduce crime. There is a danger that if compliance is not implemented fully, those who are abiding by it may start having second thoughts. This can sabotage the entire campaign of conservation. We must follow what the developed and the developing worlds are doing and reap the dividends. The writer is an engineer and a member of the Central Council, Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Pakistan Email: Cheema_tahir@yahoo.com