ISLAMABAD - In an apparent bid to provide cheap electricity to the consumers, a parliamentary panel on Thursday directed private power infrastructure board (PPIB) to initiate hydel power projects rather than to focus on thermal plants.

During the meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power which was held under the chair of Senator Zahid Khan was annoyed over the performance of PPIB for not initiating hydel power projects that can provide cheap electricity to the consumers in the country. The committee said that from last eighteen years department has not initiated even single hydel power project and also does not have any plan to initiate hydel projects during next two to three years which is very unfortunate.

Members said that country does not have sufficient fuel resource for power production therefore we should increase our reliance on hydel sources rather than of thermal.  Chairman of the committee Senator Zahid khan said that nation is paying billion of rupees for electricity bills but do not have light while departments are still focusing on thermal projects. Standing committee showed resentment over delayed prosecution of power projects and said that projects are not initiated well in time therefore investors leave the project.  Officials told the committee that NEPRA takes a year to determine tarrif for private power producers therefore process delays for years.

The committee recommended PPIB to devise a mechanism to reduce the duration of financial close of projects and give their suggestions to standing committee if any legislation is required in this regard.  Standing committee also directed NEPRA to brief the committee regarding process of tarrif determination during next meeting and put in the picture the reasons that why this process has been delayed.

N A Zuberi informed the committee that circular debt is a big challenge for private power infrastructure board as no one is ready to invest in power sector in the country. He said that investors from local as well as international level are reluctant to invest and provide financial assistance in power sector.

He said if timely payments to IPPs would not be ensured how we can expect that a new investor would come and invest here.

 MD PPIB informed the committee that although coal is another cheap source of power production but internationally coal financing is very infrequent.