Karachiites angry at long power outages

Parts of the port city of Karachi experienced prolonged power outages throughout the day on Monday despite the weather remained not so hot and there was enough available capacity to meet electricity demand.

People expressed anger over the prolonged announced and unannounced blackouts of up to 10-hours in both residential and commercial areas, including Society, Gulshan, Orangi, Defence, Garden, Tariq Road, Saddar, MA Jinnah Road, Numaish, Baldia, Johar, Korangi, Surjani and Bin Qasim.

The K-Electric (KE), the integrated power utility company, is responsible for supply of electricity to more than 2.5 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in Karachi and a few areas outside the city’s limits.

Spokesperson of the power supply company, however, claimed that the utility made “no unannounced load-shedding” on Monday, adding that most of the areas recorded power shutdown due to “annual maintenance and infrastructure upgradation.”

“There may be localised and planned annual preventive maintenance activities. These were communicated in advance via SMS,” the spokesperson told The Express Tribune. “Demand is still significantly below installed capacity,” the official said. it is learnt that the KE has the resources to provide 2,100 megawatts, including 650MW from the national grid.

It may be recalled that the power firm intentionally switches off power for up to seven-and-half hours daily in the areas, which are allegedly high among power theft and low on monthly bill payment. The load-shedding in those areas, however, are made as per announced schedule.

No unscheduled load-shedding was done, the spokesperson said “Largely, the power supply remained within normal ranges. Only preventive maintenance with due prior intimation or in case of any localised fault, which was swiftly restored,” the official added.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (Nepra) documents suggest that the bill recovery remain above 90% from the consumers to K-Electric. K-Electric Chief Executive Officer Moonis Alvi said the other day that the power outages would reduce substantially over the next three years. “By 2023, 93-94% area on KE network would become (largely) load-shed-free,” he said.

The city experiences increased unannounced power outages during the summer season due to the widening gap between demand and supply and poor transmission system. “The demand is likely to reach 3,000MW in the forthcoming summer season,” another official estimated.

The company has, however, recently announced the addition of 900 megawatt supply to its network, including 450MW additional supply from the national grid, ahead of the summer season (Mar-Apr) 2021. It has plans to add more supplies in the second half of 2021.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)