The ongoing power crisis has exacted a very heavy toll that has made the people sick and tired. Although the government is trying its utmost to mitigate the crisis, there seems to be no end to the woes of common man. On the other hand, experts conclude that the power sector in its present shape is not sustainable and would have to be re-engineered as a whole. Additionally, privatisation will have to be put on hold in order to end uncertainty and create a space for change. As a solution and in order to fulfil the present and future consumer needs, assure affordability, somewhat stem tariff increases and lastly arrange for long-term sustainability, the concept of giving some of the PSCEs on management contracts is considered extremely feasible. Similarly, the lame duck PEPCO needs to be immediately wound up, as presently it is more of a drag than help. That it is unable to provide a semblance of service to people, even after 3,000MW of capacity addition, increase in average power tariff by 64 percent (despite great public discontent) and the introduction of monthly fuel price adjustment, speaks volumes about the apathy and paucity of expertise of this entity. Although the issues besetting the sector are technical, commercial and financial, the way forward would first be to assure its financial sustainability. More so, when the present conditions inhibit investment and the cost of service for one unit of electricity has touched the high level of Rs 10, while the sale rate (even when all assumptions for tariff setting come true) is less by nearly 20 percent or so, this translates into a gap of nearly Rs 220 billion in case PEPCOIKESC production touches 110 billion units for 2010-11. The financial losses can be corrected through reduced expenditures, efficiency enhancement/improvement in the GENCOs and by partly offsetting the lopsided fuel mix through conversion of oil-fired stations to coal/LNG (any extra availability of gas seems to be quite distant). Improvement in revenue collection and reduction in line losses in DISCOs, along with beefing up of the NTDC through capacity enhancement and induction of new technologies, would increase revenues for the current level of sales. Furthermore, change in the present setup or dynamics of tariff formulation/determination, an immediate notification of the Central Power Purchase Agency (CPPA) as an independent entity and the fulfilment of various prerequisites to such a setup, will add on to the above. A fully empowered CPPA would ensure financial discipline and that nothing like the present circular debt appears again. Further, as capacity additions are a necessity, fast-tracking of the presently held up public sector generation projects (425MW Nandipur CCP, 525MW Chichoki Malian CCP and 747MW Guddu CCP) and some other quick additions in 18 months or so (amongst others a used coal-fired plant of 300 to 450MW at Lakra comes to mind), upgrading PPIB (the present legislative sanction will not make any change for the better), and priority bringing in WAPDA to support thermal capacity additions through coal, especially after the demise of PEPCO, would be needed. And additional capacities, other than through the public sector, would be arranged by PPIB and the AEDB by speed tracking of the various processes at these entities and at NEPRA. The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) can chip in through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in hydro- and coal-fired generation that has a potential of 10,000MW in the coming five years. Immediate updation of the Electricity Act 1910/Electricity Rules 1937/Telegraph Act 1885, declaration of electricity bills default as a non-bailable offence and complete independence of the sector from outside influence would then discipline the operations of DISCOs/KESC, especially when the present receivable are a staggering, high amount. As this amount include huge amounts due against KESC and other governmental entities, the instrument of 'at source deduction would have to be given greater clout, while the payment/reconciliation of outstanding bills shall become the obligation of defaulting customers. In addition, the policymaking level needs to be improved. Consequently, there is also a need for positioning the Ministry of Water and Power with technical resource (having hands-on experience), requiring it to be the lead manager for power sector reforms (of course, with due help and liaison with the Ministry of Finance and unburdening of the Planning Commission from this onerous task). As the regulatory regime affects the operations of the power sector deeply, we would have to take up immediate capacity building of NEPRA/OGRA and do away with the 2007 change/amendment to the NEPRA Act relating to the qualifications of its Chairman (presently sub judice in the Supreme Court). With this should end the load suppression model of power tariff, the concept of cross-tariff subsidisation, along with the lifeline consumers, and the special tariff for this class of customers. The regulator, unlike the procedure being adopted presently, may calculate the optimum efficiency values for DISCO5/NTDC/GENCOs and then only consider such figures for tariff setting. This would do away with any further pressure to increase power rates and the inefficiencies, if any, would either be wiped away by the entities themselves or rightly shouldered by the owners viz Government of Pakistan (GoP) in case of the public sector and owner and operators in case of the privatised entities. Actually, the sector should be isolated from any requirement to bear the brunt of socio-political obligations of the federal government. Such obligations, of course, can be discharged through targeted subsidies. Additionally, the latest DISCO Board of Directors (BODs) - not comprising experienced professionals and having the needed depth - should be replaced with new professional boards on the principle of filling up/arranging of the competencies that have so far eluded the various PSCEs. The new board will be totally independent, executive in nature and fully responsible for their deeds. As gaps in power supply are to remain for quite sometime, one way to mitigate the shortages would be to resort to load management or loadshedding or alternative take up measures to stop wastage in the system, - the last having a potential of saving up to 2,000MW or so can be through the stoppage of actual abuse, inefficient use and an understanding into the dynamics of smart usage. The introduction of Demand-Side Management (DSM) technologies in DISCO operations in a short span of 12 to 24 months can add to the above. All this could be implemented through the National Energy Conservation Strategy (including the PEPCO agenda) and regular meetings of the National Energy Conservation Council/setting-up and strengthening of its secretariat at ENERCON. As conservation necessarily needs the general public to be educated, a mass awareness campaign through PEMRA with added clout can be undertaken by the electronic media, as public service messaging. On the other hand, in case this is not taken up as a national policy, the power sector cannot be taken out of the crisis it is facing since 2005, nor would it make way for the implementation of the under updation (from its 1994 mothballed version) National Power Plan (NPP). The plan is designed on the least cost generation formula. It can arrange for the needed capacities of 43,000MW in 2015, 65,000MW in 2020 and 1,25,000MW in 2030. Summing up, we see that the above 20-point programme provides a roadmap that will reduce pressure on the government to increase power tariff and also make the sectoral operations sustainable. Implementation of these would change the economic landscape of the country, attract investments and provide people with the needed level of service in about three years. Additionally, this would create and provide the space that is required to implement a long-term programme to permanently correct the presently lopsided generation, and fuel and customer mix. The writer is an engineer and president of the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Pakistan. Email: cheema_tahir@yahoo.com.