Islamabad - The government is all set to revive rental power plants (RPPs) to meet the demand of electricity, and those RPPs which have been cleared by the National Accountability Bureau would get natural gas under a new amnesty scheme recently approved from the ECC.

“We have almost 220 mmcfd natural gas available, out of which almost 200 mmcfd gas would be provided to RPPs which have been revived under a new name,” Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told The Nation.

The minister said this would be additional gas which has not been included in the system yet. “We are not providing rental power projects gas out of our available supply but it would be provided from the gas fields which are under testing process and not contributing to national pipelines,” he explained.

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has recently approved the summary to this effect which reportedly was jointly prepared by ministries of petroleum, and water and power. As per the accepted proposal, gas would be provided to different RPPs at producer prices for six months to three years.

The ECC approved the revival of the RPPs under the new name of Short-Term Independent Power Plants (STIPPs), as per the summary titled “Utilisation of the existing available generation capacity - short-term IPPs”.

In this regard, Nepra has already started processing the applications of Gulf Powergen Private Limited (GPGPL) and Reshma Power Generation Limited (RPGL). RPGL has applied for 96.96 megawatts power project which is located at 4.5 kilometres Link Manga-Raiwind Road, in Raiwind area of Kasur district.

In the application to get licence, the RPGL has stated that it submitted its bid on Feb 16, 2009 to set up 201.30MW thermal power generation facility, for the period of five years, after government initiated a project through ministry of water and power and PPIB, for fast track rental projects through international competitive bidding. It further stated that under five years rental services contract, the company commenced trial production on Nov 16, 2010. The company discontinued the electricity supply after the judgment of Supreme Court in RPPs case.

RPGL pleaded that it has settled its all liabilities through an agreement and NAB issued a clearance letter in favour of the company. It said that in view of the readily available idle capacity and the prevailing shortage of electricity in the country, the company applies for the generation licence.

The GPGPL, formerly known as Gulf Rental Power Private Limited, has applied for 84MW power generation licence. This plant has a net capacity of 62MW and would be set up in area of Gujranwala Electric Supply Company (Gepco).

The rental power projects have been opposed since they were announced by last PPP government. The opponents argue that running power plants on rent could not be a solution of national energy crisis. The RPPs became highly controversial when Supreme Court intervened and later NAB found massive corruption in these power projects. NAB indicted former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and six others in the rental power case in January.

The idea of generating power from rental power projects in incumbent government was first tabled by the former Water and Power Secretary Nargis Sethi, who was tasked to end loadshedding. In order to grant electricity generation licence to RPGL and GRPPL, Nepra would hold a public meeting on Nov 18.

The critics have questioned the government policy of reviving the notorious projects, instead of exploring new avenues to generate electricity, and its plan to give generous supply of 200 mmcfd gas when a severe gas shortage prevails in the country.