The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) on Thursday penalised the National Transmission and Despatch Company – a state-owned entity – for delaying by up to six years a critical transmission project required to evacuate more than 1,500 megawatts of electricity despite acute shortages.
The non-completion of some of these projects led to countrywide power breakdowns over the last few years.
The regulator said it had “taken serious note of abnormal delay in completion of interconnection arrangement for 404MW Uch-II power plant” i.e., 125-kilometre 220kV Uch-II to Sibi transmission line.
Uch-II is one the cheapest gas-based power plants currently operating on an interim arrangement. The plant was commissioned in April 2014, and it had been underutilised due to incomplete interconnection arrangement.
Similar was the case of 747MW Guddu new power plant, which was commissioned in April 2014 and was still operating on interim arrangement despite lapse of almost four years. Both these power projects — 404MW Uch-II and 747MW Guddu — were inaugurated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif despite expert warnings that ribbon-cutting of half-baked projects carried unforeseen costs.
Furthermore, as per contract 220kV Mansehra, 220kV Chakdara, 220kV DI Khan and 220kV Nowshera grid stations were required to be completed by December 2016. However, the said grid stations were still not completed. Consequently, certain areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Mansehra, Hazara, Swat, DI Khan were facing low voltage and power supply constraints.
The work was still ongoing on these grid stations, said the power regulator. Moreover, 220kV Chishtian and 220kV Gujrat grid stations had been completed with a delay of three years and two years, respectively. “The delay in projects has not only caused serious technical and financial complications but also resulted in low voltages and extended hours of load shedding”.
The regulator argued that it is imperative to optimally use the new generation capacity that is introduced in the system. Transmission and distribution infrastructure must be able to handle all available electricity and deliver it to the end-consumer. NEPRA also added, that “networks in NTDC and in most of the DISCOs are not adequate to transmit electricity under different system conditions”.