Islamabad -  Despite the government claim of achieving a historical milestone of generating 20,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, consumers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are facing 8 to 18 hours long load-shedding.

According to official documents available with The Nation, the load shedding of 6 to 14 hours is being observed on various feeders in KP but in reality, some areas are facing up to 18 hours power cuts.

As per the government’s claim, of the total 574 feeders of KP, there is zero load shedding on 272 feeders. The government blames the system constraints along with losses and low recovery the main reason for the load shedding. Prolonged power cuts in loss making areas make sense but it is creating resentment among consumers residing in the high recovery areas.

Official sources said that It is hard to buy the government claim and just take the example of Swat, Dir, and Chitral and apply it to the entire province. Out of 95 feeders of Swat, Dir, and Chitral, about 83 are facing 12 to 14 hours load shedding while nine have six hours power cuts whereas three have zero load shedding. The zero load shedding is for two steel mills and one hospital, an official said. The same situation subsists in Swabi, Mardan, Charsada Buner, while in Southern districts of the province, the situation is even worst. Similarly, Harripure and adjacent areas are facing the low voltage problem. In Buner, recoveries are 97 percent but it is still facing prolonged load shedding.

System constraints are one of the main reasons for the excessive load shedding on the majority of feeders. The federal government has failed to upgrade the transmission and distribution system during its four years tenure. Due to system constraints, the province cannot utilize around 17 percents or 300 MW of its electricity share, particularly in the summer, the official said.

The second issue is the loss and low recoveries, which compel the authorities to resort to extensive load shedding. Instead of controlling the losses or to improve the recoveries, the Discos have meted out a new technique of cutting the electricity to the loss making areas. To reduce the losses, the companies have adopted a simple technique of complete disconnection to the loss making regions of different feeders which they call it sectionalization. Through sectionalisation, the loss making areas are disconnected from the main feeder. The SDOs and Xian have been directed to provide minimum electricity to the loss making areas, particularly after 20th of every month, the official disclosed. When contacted, an official of the power division said that they have warned all the Discos regarding the sectionalization.

Recently in interaction with media, State Minister for Power Abid Sher Ali had said that due to a delay in the acquisition of land, the construction of two 220KV grid stations was delayed and the province was going to face low voltage problem till February/March next year. He had said that in 2014, the federal government paid Rs520 million to the provincial government for the land acquisition to construct grid stations in Chakdara and Nowshera but the land was acquired after three and a half years. He said that the situation will improve in February or March after the completion of both the grid stations.

However, a spokesman for the Peshawar Electric Supply Company(PESCO) has rejected the claim that sectionalization is being observed to control the losses. He said that the main purpose of sectionalisation is to protect the feeders from over loading. “Some feeders cannot take the extra load so we have to disconnect the power from some areas, for a short time, to ensure the supply of power to the rest of the area,” he said.

 

Fawad Yousafzai