US Consul General in Lahore, Zachary Harkenrider and Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) CEO Zahoor Ahmed Chohan inaugurated a new state-of-the-art Power Distribution Centre of the company here on Monday. The centre has been established with support from the USAID to automate monitoring and management of power flow throughout the company’s network. The upgrade has helped in reducing unscheduled load shedding.

“Supporting the Pakistan government’s to improve performance of the energy sector is one of our top assistance priorities.” said US Consul General Harkenrider. “We work hand in hand with the government officials and specialists in the power sector to improve delivery of power to consumers,” he added.

The new Power Distribution Centre receives real-time data on electricity loads in various parts of the network. This critical information is a key factor which enables the power distribution companies to prevent unscheduled loadshedding. To upgrade the power flow management, USAID, through its Power Distribution Programme, installed state-of-the-art technology at the power distribution centres of all distribution companies. This new technology provides current data on loads throughout the power network which allows power distribution companies to make prompt adjustments and avoid overloads of the system.

Acting USAID Provincial Director for Punjab Maggie Schoch also attended the event and oversees USAID’s Power Distribution Program (PDP), a five-year program launched in 2010 to support the Pakistan government in its efforts to strengthen operations of the government-owned power distribution companies (DISCOs). The ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for subsidies in the power sector and improve supply of electricity to consumers.

The program works to improve governance, policy framework, and management of the power sector to reduce distribution losses, increase collection of bills, and enhance customer services. The improvements introduced by PDP have eliminated as much as $180 million in annual losses to Pakistan’s economy and increased distribution company revenues by approximately $250 million a year, while saving or adding enough power to continuously supply 2.2 million people.