Pakistan is facing a serious power crisis nowadays. The deficit in supply of electricity during the peak periods is estimated to be 4,500MW to 5,500 MW. Naturally we are facing several hours of loadshedding daily. The crisis has been created by many successive governments which committed the blunder of delaying the much-needed power projects including dams. Electricity in Pakistan is supplied mainly by conventional thermal plants now. That requires oil and natural gas as fuel. Thermal plants fulfil a whopping 66 % of our total fuel requirements while hydro-electric plants provide only about 32% , the remainder coming from nuclear power stations. To overpower the present gap between electricity demand and supply, the government has proposed Rental Power Plants as a temporary measure. But the Rental Power Plants are prohibitively expensive as they consume significantly more fuel than the IPPs. With the RPPs, the electricity cost would increase from Rs. 9 to Rs. 13 in all probability. Keeping in view the certain other conditions already imposed by the IMF, the electricity rates can actually go so high that public would probably have to pay many times more for the same number of units it consumes today. Moreover, the contracts of Rental Power Plants are for 3-5 years only. After this period, the rental companies would dismantle their power plants and go elsewhere in the region. No wonder the idea is being criticised for being too expensive, dicey and short-sighted. Even at the reduced levels, the electricity tariff is likely to be increased by 24 percent in addition to about 30 percent increase in rates already required and committed under the IMF loan agreement. About 18 percent tariff increase has been notified by the government under the IMF program. The government's viewpoint is that the 'average' tariff for IPPs is 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour while that for RPPs is just 13.5 cents per unit. Hence, according to government's calculation, tariff rise would be only about six percent. The great advantage, though, is that the RPP plants can be set up in only about 4 to 6 months. The government's approach is that a thermal power plant requires five years and a coal-based plant at least six years. Owing to the urgency for power caused by more than 12 hours of loadshedding all over the country, they say we have no other option but to go for the Rental Power Plants. -MUHAMMAD DAHEEM, Lahore