Nepra raises questions on NTDC performance


ISLAMABAD: Taking serious notice of two power breakdowns within one month, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has raised questions on the performance of NTDC and described the transmission system as “highly unreliable and unsustainable”.

The power sector’s regulator gave pessimistic comments about the sustainability of transmission system at a time when the incumbent government is completing its five year term with the claim of a “loadshedding free” country for its successors.

On May 16, 2018, the Power Division had announced to constitute a committee under the chairmanship of Additional Secretary Waseem Mukhtar with two technical experts from NTDC.

An official said that when the entire power sector was being managed and controlled by the “unqualified” such happenings were not unexpected.

Though no formal notification of the committee was issued till the filing of this report, a meeting has been held in NPCC to discuss the reasons for the breakdown, the system’s sustainability, and finding out a way forward and fixing responsibility for the recent blackout.

According to an official statement issued by Nepra, it has taken serious notice of widespread power breakdown in NTDC’s northern system on May 16, 2018 and has directed National Transmission & Despatch Company Limited (NTDC) to submit a detailed report on the issue.

The power breakdown resulted in complete blackout in north (i.e. from Guddu–Peshawar) leaving Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa without electricity. On May 01, 2018 the tripping of NTDC’s 220 KV transmission lines affected Chashma nuclear power plant (units 1-4) causing a generation loss of around 2,100MW in supply to the north.

The two consecutive power breakdowns within a short span of time have once again exposed the fragile stability and reliability of the system. This shows poor state of affairs on the part of NTDC.

The prevailing situation in respect of poor performance of NTDC’s transmission network has been viewed seriously by the Authority and NTDC has been directed to immediately provide a detailed report regarding the unforeseen circumstances which caused wide spread power breakdown on 16.05.2018.

On February 15, 2018, Nepra had slapped a fine of Rs 10 million on NTDC on account of undue delay in power evacuation projects (ie transmission lines for power plants) and development works (i.e. 500kV & 220kV grid stations). However, the company had obtained a stay order against the decision of the regulator.

Nepra maintained that delay in projects has not only caused serious technical and financial complications but also resulted in low voltage and extended hours of loadshedding. NTDC being a National Grid Company within the purview of Section 18 of the Nepra Act is responsible for operating and providing safe, reliable transmission and interconnection services to power plants.

According to an insider, Rana Wajahit, who retired on April 15, 2018 as Deputy Managing Director (DMD), has been selected to the same position on direct basis. However, he has not assumed charge due to a ban on all recruitment imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Meanwhile, the NTDC Board, in its meeting held on April 21, 2018 has approved by majority the promotion of Ilyas Ahmad, General Manager as Deputy General Manager NTDC (BS 20) and his services have been placed at the disposal of MD NTDC for further posting against vacant post.