ISLAMABAD -  A parliamentary panel on Friday questioned performance and the huge cost overrun of Nandipur Power Plant that has reached Rs58 billion from the estimated cost of Rs22 billion.

The committee also noted that despite its completion, 425MW Nandipur Power Plant is not operating in full capacity and its per unit cost for generated electricity is costlier. The matter was discussed in a meeting of sub-committee of the Senate Standing committee on Water and Power. The meeting was presided over by Senator Numan Wazir.

The committee also expressed serious concern over unjust collection of Rs62 billion from the electricity consumers of Karachi and asked the Water and Power Ministry to make arrangement for returning this amount back to the power consumers. The committee was informed by the official of the Ministry of water and power that K-electric was the sole privatised power distribution company but was not providing relief in tariff to the consumers like other state-owned distribution companies (Discos). Discos are providing the benefit of low oil price to consumers, the officials added.

The senior officials of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) assured the committee that it will look into the matter and will consider this in its tariff for K-electric in weeks to come.

Regarding Rs36 billion cost overrun of the Nandipur plant in a short period of 15 months from Rs22 billion to Rs58 billion, the committee also cautioned the ministry that it will never ever allow the government to pass on this burden to consumers and collect it from them in the shape of increased electricity tariff. “It is the government who is responsible for delay and increased cost and not the consumers,” they said. The committee noted that the consumers should not be punished for the wrongdoing that they never committed as it was the government who mishandled the project.

The officials from the minister of water and power informed that the delay was due to the Law and Justice Ministry. The Ministry of law was not providing in time opinion on the project back in 2011, the official added. The Nandipur additional director said that the plant is functional since January 18, 2017 and running at full capacity. He further said that since September 2016 the plant is shut for the purpose of inspection and some maintenance. The committee expressed reservation over the absence of Nandipur project CEO and decided to visit Nandipur project site soon after the next meeting. The committee decided to hold its next meeting specifically on Nandipur project.

The committee also expressed disappointment over power generation gap of power generation companies (GENCOs) plants and directed the water and power ministry to submit details of economic merit order of Gencos and independent power producers (IPPs). The committee chairman asked the officials of the ministry that why there was a huge difference in efficiency between public sector thermal power plants and IPPs. He also read the efficiency level of private IPPS ie Nishat Power Limited is running at 45 percent efficiency, Orient 51 percent, Saif Power 51 percent, Foundation Power 48 percent and Liberty Power 45 percent.

Convener of the committee said that the issue of load shedding could be resolved if these GENCO plants worked efficiently. He said that the generation gap is over 43 percent this time but if these plants are properly maintained they can produce more power.

The Power Ministry also acknowledged difference in efficiency in GENCOs and IPPs and added that private sector was much active, vigilant and look after the plant’s performance compare to public sector.