ISLAMABAD: In a disclosure likely to upset the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government’s claim of bringing an end to loadshedding by the time it
completes its tenure in 2018, the country’s power regulator said on Friday that most transmission line and grid system improvement projects were moving ‘significantly behind schedule’.
“Most … developmental works of [the] NTDC [National Transmission and Dispatch Company] are delayed. Commitment charges are being paid due to delay in execution of projects … a drain on public exchequer,” said the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) in its special “Visit Report”.
The document is based on on-site examination of the NTDC’s power projects, loading position of transformers and transmission lines, system constraints, future system expansion plans and related issues.
The report was finalised in November 2015 and went through the consultative process of the NTDC for almost a year before being made public.
Power sector regulator says most NTDC projects are running behind schedule
According to the regulator, the transmission system should be in place six months before commercial operation of power plants to ensure seamless testing and its economic benefit during the testing phase, but major transmission line and transformation system projects are behind schedule by six months to three years.
It means that about 4,500MW of additional power generation capacity would be available in 2017-18, but sufficient transmission facilities would not be there to effectively absorb it, resulting in its dispersal on unreliable alternate lines. The shortfall would, therefore, come under control in major load centres of Punjab but loadshedding would not completely end in the whole of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.
Major generation projects like the 1,320MW coal project at Port Qasim, 1,320MW Sino-Sindh Resources, 660MW Engro Thar Coal and 1,320MW Jamshoro Coal are scheduled to reach the production stage before June 2017, but enabling conversion, switching and transmission systems would not be completed before June 2018.
The report disclosed that nine major transmission line and grid station projects of 220kV and 500kV [for Chishtian, Vehari, Gujrat, Lahore, Rahimyar Khan, Shikarpur, Dera Murad Jamali and Kot Lakhpat] which should have been completed between 2012 and June 2015 under the contract are still far from completion.
“System constraints are posing serious threats to the system reliability,” Nepra said, adding that practice of extending the due date of commissioning of projects of national interest should be discouraged.
Mishandling of project
Nepra accuses the NTDC of mishandling the project for upgrade of the National Power Control Centre (NPCC) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (Scada) — the two critical initiatives for power stabilisation. “The Scada project at the moment is short of at least 41 to 51 remote terminal units (RTUs). With [the] existing number of RTUs, the Scada system seems insufficient for real time monitoring of power system or proper load flow studies at [the] NPCC.”
Moreover, the interconnection arrangements for four generation projects — 500MW Jhimpir and Gharo Wind Clusters, 969MW Neelum-Jhelum, 600MW Quaid-i-Azam Solar and all Thar coal-based projects — should have been completed in March and June 2016 but they achieved only zero to 47 per cent progress by September 2015. “This will cause power evacuation problems.”
The regulator emphasises the need for a system to assess the monetary loss incurred because of each and every tripping and fault in the 220kV and 500kV network.
The NTDC, it deplored, had no specific plans for reduction of transmission losses while fault recorders were out of order at almost all grid stations of the NTDC.
Nepra said the NTDC was asked to file comments on these observations but it did not challenge Nepra’s observations. Rather, it revealed that completion dates of works for the 220kV Chistian substation, Vehari grid station extension project, Gujrat substation, 500kV new grid station of Lahore and Rahimyar Khan, 500kv switching station at Moro and associated transmission of 500kv Lahore grid and Rahimyar Khan-Shikarpur had been further extended.
Likewise, the Lahore-Matiari transmission line which is a must for evacuation of 4,500MW of electricity from Thar and Port Qasim to Lahore and upcountry is yet to take off.
The regulator said that the 404MW Uch project was the most economical plant and inaugurated in April 2014, but its 125km transmission line was still not complete, compromising safe and reliable power dispersal. “The abnormal delay in [the] construction of 125km transmission line has affected [the] system’s reliability as N-1 contingency is missing. Further, due to non-commissioning of [the] above-mentioned transmission line, at times almost 375MW of economical power from Uch has to be shed as there are severe transmission and transformation constraints in the area, especially in winter season.”
The plant is sometimes shut down to save the system, causing a Rs1.5 million loss for every hour. Financial loss incurred in 2014-15 alone was Rs6.5 billion and affected 115,500 consumers. Likewise, the 747MW Guddu plant was commissioned in 2014 but its 256km transmission line is still not in the advance stage.