THE National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) has sought approval from the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) for its proposed 10-year Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) 2022-31.
The plan proposes incorporation of 36,292 MW of electricity to the national grid during the period through hydro, solar PV, wind and bagasse-based technologies while thermal projects include local gas, local coal, imported coal, residual fuel oil (RFO), RLNG and nuclear-based technologies.
Preparation of the forward looking plan to ensure energy security is a welcome development as the country suffered hugely due to lack of proper planning to meet ever-increasing power needs.
It is known to all that the country witnessed the worst kind of power shortage before assumption of power by PML(N) in 2013 as previous governments added almost nothing to the national grid.
It was because of the focused attention of the then PML(N) government that the country was able to generate more than its actual requirements with active collaboration of our friendly country China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative.
However, the country is once again facing a critical shortage of electricity due to lack of understanding of the issues involved and diversion of focus away from the completion of planned energy projects during tenure of the PTI government.
The coalition government maintains the prolonged power outages are partly due to the PTI government's failure to set up new power plants on local coal on time and sign long-term contracts with the global suppliers of LNG when it was available at cheaper rates in the range of $3 to 5 per mmbtu in mid-2020.
Diversification of generation sources was vital to ensure sustained supply of power to all consumers at affordable rates but regrettably the previous government also inflicted an opportunity loss of 1.2 trillion rupees as it did not allow China National Nuclear Corporation to start work on Chashma Nuclear Power Plant (Chashnup-5) also known as C-5.
The completion of the project in 2024, as originally planned, would have added 1,100 MW of electricity to the national grid at cheaper rates.
In this backdrop, we hope the new plan would ensure initiation of only those projects that ensure generation of electricity at cheaper rates.
We also hope that the decision of the present government to phase out inefficient plants and those running on costly imported fuels would also contribute a lot in bringing the unaffordable tariff down.