LAHORE - The despite having surplus power supply from the national grid the Lahore Electric Supply Company has been carrying out electricity shutdown of two to four hours in urban areas while rural areas are facing electricity loadshedding of more than six hours.

The suburbs of Okara, Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib, which are considered as high loss feeders, are facing more power shutdowns as compared to the urban areas.

According to Lesco officials, there was no shortfall of power in Lesco's distribution system, as the company is being provided power more than its demand. They said that power allocation from the national grid for the company is around 3100MW while current demand is up to 3000MW but power outages of at least two to four hours have been reported in a number of areas. Consumers have refuted the claims of the federal government regarding loadshedding, stating that more than 60 percent of the feeders across the province were facing loadshedding.

They said that as per policy, loadshedding is being carried out for two hours daily on feeders facing below 20 percent losses and six hours on those showing above 30 percent losses. They claimed that presently there are more than 1200 feeders of below 10 percent losses in Lahore where no power loadshedding is being observed while around 500 feeders, mostly in Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib, are suffering prolonged power suspension of up to six hours, due to power theft, non-payment of bills and high losses. They said that there are only 200 feeders out of almost 1700 feeders in suburbs of Lahore where up to six-hour loadshedding is carried out.

Regarding daylong power suspension, the Lesco officials are of the view that these breakdowns are not part of official loadshedding neither they are due to system constraints. They were of the view that there are scheduled shutdowns of power in different areas, especially in the localities surrounding the Orange Line Train Project.

In December 2017, the government had declared around 5,300 feeders load-free across Pakistan, saying zero loadshedding will be observed on feeders with below 10 percent losses. The zero loadshedding feeders included Lesco 1250, Gepco 750, Fesco 900, Lesco 700, Mepco 770, Pesco 300, Hesco , 200 and Quesco 60 feeders.

Officials claimed that in December 2013 the electricity generation was 9,279MW while system demand was 11,800MW, having a shortfall of 2,522MW but now situation has changed and country has surplus power.

However, multiple factors including power theft, non-payment of bills and administrative issues at Discos level are the major constraints to eliminate loadshedding permanently and forever. They said that Discos' financial losses have increased manifold and the government could increase the load management hours for those feeders with rising losses. Financial crunch is significant and the government cannot bear it and if uninterrupted supply is ensured it will have an additional financial impact of Rs300 billion per annum, they added.

Energy experts are of the view that the power loadshedding will continue due to system constraints and a low recovery in spite of surplus generation in the country even after 2018. Power sector experts disagree with the claim of the government and are uncertain about zero loadshedding in the country by 2018 despite tall claims of the government, citing system constraints and low recovery.

They said that the government will not be in a position to supply electricity to the consumers due to recovery issues and system constraints even if demand-supply gap is filled with new generation by 2018.