Pakistan is facing the worst power shortage crisis of its history. It is often said that there is no short-term solution for the problem. This might be true if we assume that it is Government’s duty alone to provide electricity to all the categories of electricity consumers including household (private), commercial, and industrial sectors.
The Government’s best quick fixes have so far been to channel relatively expensive electricity into national grid via either Independent Power Producers (IPPs) or Rental Power Plants (RPPs). While IPPs are contributing electricity to the national grid the RPPs have been declared unlawful by the Supreme Court (SC).
Worst, the electricity charges have escalated manifold over the last two or three years ever since the Government withdrawn subsidy on electricity on the advice of International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The problem is that there are people who clear electricity dues regularly and there are people who default. But electricity supply companies are punishing all indiscriminately through unfair load shedding.
One solution would be to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to those who clear dues as an incentive so that who default due to any reason should learn from this lesson.
Now a days there is an increasing trend of establishing in-house Captive Power Plants – CPP (own limited generation of electricity) to cater for domestic electricity needs in industrial complexes and housing societies. Though expensive but a CPP ensures uninterrupted power supply and also decrease the load on national grid – best way to elope bureaucratic chain; corruption and unjust distribution of electricity.
There are people who believe that instead of supplying gas to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations the gas should be injected to the power supply chain / electricity system. We are penny wise and pound foolish in the sense that we save a small amount on transportation fuel but pay heavily for electricity. One problem in reverting to Petrol from CNG for consumers is the exploitation of petrol pricing mechanism by petrol supply chain players including the biggest beneficiary – the Government!
There are reports that 70% of the furnace oil purchased for public sector thermal power generation does not reach the thermal plants due to highly organized pilferage. What a shame. On top of this the Government’s focal persons who are at the helm of affairs in power sector have recently put the onus of responsibility of misinforming the public on the erstwhile PEPCO – ingenious idea indeed.
To cope with the menace of electricity load shedding, consumers have installed Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) apparatus at homes but due to massive and mostly un-scheduled / un-notified load shedding there is an increasing trend among people to install electricity generators that run on gas. The country is already facing acute gas shortage so much so that it is not possible to supply gas to fertilizer plants hence resulting in hike in fertilizer prices. Pakistan is a country facing food shortage too. So when more and more people would install gas generators at home it would most probably result in increase in gas price and also it would worsen the gas supply-demand gap. Apparently the Government is sleeping over this issue.
Lastly, there is still life beyond the national grid in Pakistan. Many of the remote areas simply do not enjoy the privilege of electricity even in these times. For these areas alternative electricity sources such as wind power and solar electricity may be harnessed.
The bottom line is that CPP is the way to go when it is not possible to generate electricity via hydel dams or coal mines and gas is becoming scarce. There might be reasons why Government has so far not tapped the potential of importing power from China & Iran. Hope there is a valid reason!