Ragtag power transmission system
The main power transmission line between Tarbella and Peshawar broke down at Urmar which caused suspension in electricity supply for several hours to five districts in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Over the past few years power break downs and feeders tripping have become a chronic problems. The centralized and convoluted transmission system inflicts more than 30 percent line losses. The obsolete transmission system cannot pick the additional power of 10000 megawatt which is being generated from newly operationalised thermal and hydel power stations. It explains as to why power outages and load management are still daily phenomena.
The high voltage electricity transmission system is almost 40 years old and it needs modernization. Some projects of piecemeal up-gradation have been financed by the World Bank. The Asian Development Bank had approved a loan of $4.5 billion in 2016 for the modernization of transmission and distribution system. It also included a financial component of $400 million for installation of smart meters for advance metering in the jurisdictions of two distribution companies, Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) and Islamabad Electric Supply Company IESCO). The loan facility was not availed for the installation of smart meters to domestic, commercial and industrial consumers and the sanctioned loan for the modernization of transmission system could not be released by the donor agency. Moreover, Mitiari-Lahore high voltage power transmission and distribution project could also be not implemented which was to be financed by China within the CPEC framework.
The provincial governments can generate electricity, install their own transmission networks and set up distribution companies. But from among the federating units only Sindh has set up a provincial distribution company and will lay a transmission system. The Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government had announced for the installation of its own transmission system and distribution company for some ongoing hydel power projects but it remains to be seen whether these development projects will materialise or not.
Majority of grid stations are overload and do not have the proviso of further expansion. Tripping in distribution system is an every day occurrence. The issue has been agitated on the citizens’ portal of the Prime Minister Office. Let us hope, that national energy policy, which is being worked with consensus of provinces, will address issues that plague the electricity transmission and distribution system.