LAHORE: The electricity transmission system of Pakistan can currently bear a load of up to 17,400 megawatts which has to be upgraded with an additional 8,000MW to get best results from on-going power projects, said National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) Managing Director Faiz Ahmad Chaudhry.
“We are working round the clock not only on new transmission lines but are also aggressively testing the capacity of existing system,” Chaudhry said while talking to a group of journalists.
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“For instance, we have tested the tolerance of the system by separately running each distribution company without load-shedding at peak hours, which exposed the flaws and troubled regions in each power distribution company.”
For the NTDC MD, the greatest challenge they face is the company’s limited capacity. In 69 years, the NTDC has connected 75 power plants through transmission lines and for 2014-17 it has been tasked to add another 50 new plants to the grid.
“Our human resource has badly depleted, as transmission was not a priority for the past government; the talented professionals left the country to seek better fortunes in the Middle East and more developed economies,” he said.
The present government has committed to adding some 10,000MW to the national grid before the next general elections in 2018. However, experts stress the need for upgrading the dilapidated transmission system, the cost of which runs into billions of dollars.
So far in the current government’s tenure, the NTDC has commissioned a 6km 500-kilovolt transmission line for the 1,320MW Sahiwal coal-power plant and the electricity will be transmitted to the national grid when the project starts production.
Similarly, a 6km 500KV transmission line connecting the 1,200MW Bhikki power plant will be ready next week. The 65km 220KV Vehari-Chistian transmission line had been completed on October 5 whereas the 500KV Shikarpur transmission line had been operational since May 2016.
Nearly 83% work on the Neelum-Jhelum transmission line was completed and it would be ready by April 2017, the NTDC MD said, adding the Uch-Sibi transmission line was scheduled to be operational in March 2017.
In the meantime, the Dera Murad Jamali transmission line will be completed next month. The 56km 500KV Haveli Bahadur Shah transmission line was commissioned in May 2016 and had been scheduled for completion in April 2017.
The 500KV Rahim Yar Khan transmission line is scheduled to be completed by June 2017 and the 40km Ballokhi transmission line by March 2017.
Chaudhry said laying the Matiari-Rahim Yar Khan transmission line over 900 km had proved to be a challenge but it was doable. The issues with the Chinese contractor had been settled and the contractor was awaiting determination of the tariff before starting work.
The contractor had done necessary homework as it had already negotiated with 607 local contractors for laying a 125-150km transmission line. This job could be completed in six months.
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This line is important because it would transmit power from all coal-run power plants using Thar coal as fuel.
“The completion of all transmission lines is not an option but a necessity for the company,” he said. “Yes, the job is daunting but we have to ensure that all the 50 power projects currently under various stages of completion are connected to the national grid.”
Failure to connect any of these projects with the transmission lines will prove to be a huge national loss. As soon as these projects started producing electricity, the government would be bound to buy power or pay capacity charges even if the electricity could not be transmitted, Chaudhry said.
Courtesy : Express Tribune