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National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has accused National Power Control Centre (NPCC) of using expensive power plants in August 2019 due to which billions of rupees undue financial burden was shifted to the Discos' consumers' in August, 2019.

The regulator always raises this issue in each public hearing meant to determine monthly fuel price adjustment. However, CPPA-G and NPCC never took it seriously as their data shows non-compliance of Nepra's directives. General Manager, NPCC, Muhammad Ayub during the last hearing held on October 2, 2019 argued that furnace oil is used to restart the plants but it has not been catered for in the assumptions.

Chairman Nepra, who is apparently facing capacity issues and trying to understand the deteriorating power sector performance, suggested that NPCC and Nepra officials sit together to resolve this issue. According to Nepra, the energy purchase data submitted by CCPA-G for August 2019, has been reviewed which shows that utilization factor of all thermal power plants in August 2019 remained at 58.73 per cent.

By reviewing the utilization factors of power plants it was observed that capacities of Liberty Power, Foundation Power, Engro Powergen & Habibullah coastal, which are efficient gas based power plants (ranked at top of the merit order) have been less utilized. The utilization factor of these power plants remained at 65.46 per cent, 61.94 per cent, and 60.45 per cent respectively during August 2019.

Similarly, capacities of Engro Power Thar, Port Qasim coal and Sahiwal coal which are high ranked coal plants in the economic merit order (efficiency more than 60 per cent) are under-utilized. The utilization factor of these plants has been noted as 73.36 per cent, 62.51 per cent, 46.45 per cent and 51.76 per cent respectively during August 2019.

Moreover, capacities of RLNG based high ranked (efficiency more than 60 per cent), Haveli Bahadar Shah, Balloki & Bhikki power plants have not been optimally utilised. The utilisation factors of these power plants have been observed as 73.36 per cent, 63.74 per cent and 68.20 per cent respectively in August 2019.

Nepra argues that gas utilised at Jamshoro B-II (unit 2& 4) with 26 per cent efficiency be utilised in other efficient gas based power plants for economical operation.

The regulator further states that due to less capacity utilization of efficient power plants, optimal dispatch was given to expensive power plants ranked at the bottom of the merit order ie Kapco (block I&II), Fauji Kabirwala, Hubco Narowal, Nishat Power, Nishat Chunian Power, Liberty Power tech and Kohinoor Energy Limited. These plants have been ranked at serial 52,58,65,72, 76, 79, 80 & 82 of the merit order for the month of August 2019. The utilisation factor of these power plants remained as 105per cent 83.38.per cent, 70.08 per cent, 40.18 per cent, 72.02 per cent, 64.65 per cent, 65.78 per cent and 43.35 per cent respectively in August 2019.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

the author

I did graduation from the Government Murray College Sialkot and MSc in Psychology from the University of Punjab. I am in journalism since 1990. I worked in Daily Nawa-i-Waqt as sub editor and staff reporter in Daily Pakistan and Daily Din prior to joining Daily Business Recorder. I have been associated with this newspaper since 2000 as staff reporter. Energy Sector, Commerce / Trade and Industries are key areas of my interest. I have also the credit of exposing number of scams like Rental Power Plants (RPPs), LNG, sugar import, etc.