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Out Sourcing Thermal Power Units Ops, Repair to Multiply Cost

The government’s plan to outsource Operations and Maintenance of its thermal units is under question by certain quarters on the ground that it would increase the cost of electricity and while WAPDA has technical capacity to overhaul these plants then why to involve private sector.

At present, the public sector owns 10 powerhouses in addition to hydel and other resources. These plants had a generation capacity of over 4800 megawatt but over the years it depleted and presently the dependable capacity falls at 3550 MW that is even not being generated due to several reasons. It is learnt that the maximum electricity generation being done by these power stations is between 1200 to 1800 MW in different times mainly due to fuel shortage to run these plants. As per details of the plants the maximum capacitated plant is Guddu that had the ability to generate 1655 MW but now its capacity is 1155 and is generation not more than 1000 MW. The second highest is Muzaffargarh Thermal that had a capacity of 1350 but now fell to 1130 MW and the generation is ranging between 300-500 MW due to fuel shortage. The Thermal Jamshoro has capacity of 850 MW but reduced to 700 MW over the years but again the generation being made is 240 MW. Same is the case with the other remaining plants. The government’s plan to outsource these plants seems not feasible as it is even unable to generate the available capacity of these units. It is also learnt that the WAPDA engineers have overhauled few units but still the generation did not increase due to non-availability of fuel. For instance, in the case of Muzaffargarh and Guddu, two and three machines were overhauled respectively those increased generation capacity by 270 MW and 120 MW respectively but power loadshedding the main hurdle. The sources said that these machines were overhauled using WAPDA technical staff and available spare parts with the organisation. They further said that WAPDA engineers’ capacity is proven this way and they can overhaul all the machines provided the spare parts are made available. Experts say that outsourcing of power plants won’t deliver rather multiply the cost of electricity for the consumers. It was revealed by the sources that WAPDA charges 0.05 paisas per unit under the head of repair and maintenance whereas Independent Power Producers (IPPs) charge 0.45 paisas per unit for the same purpose. As per a report, the government needs to spend $166 million to rehabilitate its plants that also includes extension of Guddu Power Station, which is too much for the cash-strapped government to spend. Experts are of the view that by spending this amount, the government can improve the capacity of its thermal plants up to 5500 megawatt that can subsequently reduce the power shortfall in the country. They suggest the government to opt for gradual overhaul of these plants using WAPDA resources that are comparatively cheap. The persistent gas shortage has forced management to close these power stations that include GTPS Faisalabad, NGPS Multan and GTPS Kotri having dependable capacity of 210, 60 and 140 megawatt respectively. It is also worth mentioning here that the minimum age of any plant is 20 years and there are many that have been used for more than 30 years without overhauling these plants. Experts link the present power crisis to the inaction and lethargic approach of higher authorities as they could have maintained plants one by one that could have helped to avoid burdening the financial load.

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