The Energy Division has informed a parliamentary panel that an investigative committee investigating the nationwide blackout last month has held some officials at the Guddu thermal power station responsible.
“The problem occurred due to human error at the Guddu power plant. The error triggered the entire electrical system. The failure occurred because some officials did not follow SOPs [standard operating procedures] during maintenance work, ”Secretary Power Ali Raza Bhutta said on Monday.
Bhutta was briefing members of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Energy.
“Due to an error, the Guddu thermal power plant went off and there was a total blackout. At the time of the blackout, energy consumption in the country was 10,000 megawatts, ”he added.
Pakistan on January 9 plunged into total darkness after the power system of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) encountered a major failure due to the firing of the Guddu thermal power plant around midnight.
The blackout also partially disrupted the telecommunications system in the country and people from different cities and towns reported a massive drop in mobile phone signals. Initial reports had suggested that the power system at the Guddu Thermal Power Plant was technically faulty.
“This triggered the high transmission trip across the country and reduced the system frequency from 50 to zero in less than a second. The drop in infrequency triggered the firing of power plants across the country, “Federal Minister of Energy Omar Ayub Khan had posted on his official Twitter account.
After the incident, the NTDC had formed a four-member committee to investigate the reasons and events that led to the collapse of the electrical system and determine responsibility. The committee was also to suggest measures to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future in 7 days.
In view of a preliminary investigation, the Central Power Generation Company had also suspended seven of its employees working for Plant Manager-III for alleged negligence.
According to the Secretary of Energy, the Energy Division had received three reports about the blackout. He told the panel that the Energy Division would present these reports to the federal cabinet.
He said that in addition to officials from the Guddu thermal power plant, the investigation committee had also appointed those responsible for not improving the NTDC system. “The investigation committee has proposed taking steps to ensure that a plant failure does not activate the entire system in the future.”
Reporting to the NA committee, K-Electric officials said losses in Karachi, the economic center of the country, have fallen from 36% to 19%. They stated that 75% of the city is free to download. Soon the city will be 95% free of charge. A 900-megawatt unit will be operational in May, K-Electric officials said.
No sweeping powers for Power Division
The parliamentary panel also refused to grant broad powers to the Energy Division to impose surcharges on electricity consumers, as it decided to postpone the amendments to the Law of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).
The bill proposed to empower the government to impose surcharges on electricity consumers.
Today, consumers pay different surcharges, such as the rate rationalization surcharge and the finance cost surcharge, to pay for the cost of inefficiencies in power distribution companies. Consumers have also been paying a surcharge for Neelum Jhelum that will be removed next month.
Earlier, Energy Secretary Ali Raza Bhutta said that there is a uniform tariff policy across the country.
“The federal government would make changes in the rate policy only with the approval of the Council of Common Interests (CCI),” said the secretary, adding that the formulation of policies is the prerogative of the CCI.
“The current law on tariffs needs some clarification that the government is making,” he said, adding that the government is also determining the timing of Nepra’s decisions.
“If the government should impose a surcharge, it should have the power. The government will have the power to impose surcharges on two terms. The government could only impose a surcharge on public sector power projects, ”he said.
The committee chairman raised the question of whether the government could impose surcharges such as the late payment surcharge to recoup the cost of “incompetence and inefficiency” from consumers.
Committee member Shazia Marri expressed serious concerns about the absence of the attorney general. She also opposed the imposition
impose a surcharge greater than 10% of the unit price.
“The government is charging Rs 1.40 per unit based on current electricity prices. Those using 100 units will have to pay an additional 140 rupees on account of a surcharge. However, the government will not charge poor clients, ”he said. However, the committee did not support the amendment.