Country hit with 10-hour electricity outages

Islamabad –  The closure of several power plants, reduction in hydropower generation combined with the smog has once again widened the supply-demand gap, forcing distribution companies (Discos) to carry out loadshedding of up to 10 hours across the country.

“A combination of factors such as the closure of expensive power plants, reduction in hydel generation, reduction in gas supply to power plants, the forced closure of Chashma Nuclear Power Plant and smog are negatively affecting the demand and supply situation in the country and the power distribution system needs load management for certain period,” said a spokesman for the Power Division on Friday.

“Although there is no forced loadshedding anywhere in the country, the Discos are observing 4 to 10 hours long loadshedding,” an official source told The Nation. The source said that prior to the closure of expensive power plants and forced closure of the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, the generation was around 14000 megawatts (MW), which suddenly plummeted to around 9500MW. Currently, the demand was 11500MW, the source said.

Meanwhile, the Power Division spokesman said that under the directions of the federal government, the power sector has also closed all expensive furnace oil/diesel-run power plants of a cumulative capacity of 4250MW. The closed furnace oil plants include 950MW Hubco, 1000MW Muzaffargarh, 400MW Jamshoro and 700MW KAPCO while the diesel/furnace oil-fired plants include Nishat Power, Nishat Chunian Power, Liberty, Hubco Norwal, Atlas and Kel with a cumulative capacity of around 1200MW.

Last week, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was informed that the country will have 2400MW to 3400MW surplus electricity for the next four months (November 2017 to February 2018). The prime minister was also informed that the average demand for the next four months, calculated on the basis of data received from various Discos, was expected to be stood at around 14452MW. The average net firm generation after deducting any unforeseen outages from IPPs and Gencos would have remained at 16865MW approximately.

The prime minister had also directed that less-efficient power plants should be closed in a phased manner and every effort should be made to convert oil-based plants to gas in a shortest possible time in view of the availability of ample gas for the power sector.

The spokesman further said that the hydel generation average has also come down to 2700MW against the capacity of 7000MW due to the less release of water from reservoirs on provinces demand. The SNGPL has also curtained 200 mmcfd gas supply due to maintenance from November 3 to November 7, resulting in the reduction of 500MW in the system.

The spokesman said that, on Friday, the National Transmission and Distribution system successfully averted a major cascade after tripping at 11 main  500KV and 220 KV NTDC’s circuits/grid stations caused by unprecedented dense smog in the Punjab regions which could have led to the blackout in case of non-existence of system protections.

The smog-triggered tripping also led to the forced closure of all Chashma Nuclear Power Plants (C1, C2, C3, C4), where after necessary technical and security protocol, the restoration is in progress and it was expected to get full capacity in approximately 72 hours. The circuits/grid stations that were affected include 500kv Multan-DG Khan, 500kv Guddo, 747kv circuit along with Multan Bus Bar-1, 500kv Multan-Yousaf Wala circuit, 220kv Mgarh ph1-Bhwlpr, 220kv Multan-Vehari circuits -I & II, 220kv Vehari- Kassowal circuits -I & II, 220kv Kassowal- Yousafwala circuits -I & II, 220kv Multan-M/Garh circuit -4,220kv Multan-Kapco circuit-4, 500kv Multan, 220kv Vehari, Kasowal and Chishtian grids and 220kv Yousfwala- Okara circuit.

The Power Division has directed the NPCC to chalk out a well-managed emergency load-management plan for 72 hours till the restoration of 1200 MW nuclear power plants. A separate load-management plan for approximately 72 hours on the demand-supply situation is also being prepared by the NPCC. Since the demand is declining with the decrease in the temperature, the situation is expected to improve soon.

The Discos have also been directed to ensure a maximum relief to consumers besides. The Discos have further been directed to circulate the load management plan within their areas of operation for consumers’ information.

The Power Division spokesman said the unprecedented dense smog is posing a serious challenge to the national transmission system and the Power Division, NPCC, NTDC and Discos were closely monitoring the situation. Special teams and line formations have been deputed by NTDC and Discos to meet any emergent situation. Patrolling of all high transmission lines has been increased by NTDC, the spokesperson said.

The Power Division regretted the inconvenience likely to be caused to the consumers, who have been requested to adopt energy conservation to shed the load off the system.

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