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Alternative resources focus of new energy policy

The Punjab government’s first energy policy – that it hopes to announce in a month – will focus on electricity generation from hydel, bio-mass, coal, bio-gas and sun.

The government hopes to incentivise investment in power generation.

The policy also aims at reducing loadshedding through conservation measures.

The Punjab government had established an Energy Department in 2010, after the passage of the 18th Amendment but this is to be the first policy document produced by it.

The energy policy is being evolved in consultation with “all stakeholders,” an official privy to the developments said. He said the government was trying to persuade foreign as well as local businessmen to invest in the sector. The policy, according to the official, will focus on two mechanisms: Build, Own, and Operate (BOO) and Build, Own, Operate, and Transfer (BOOT).

Documents available with The Express Tribune show that the government plans on making it mandatory for new housing schemes to run at best 20 per cent of streetlights by solar energy. Planning NOCs won’t be issued if the condition is not met.

Shopping malls and plazas will be asked to replace tube lights and incandescent bulbs with LED lights to save electricity. A property tax rebate will be available against the expenditures incurred in this direction. Violators will be fined.

Construction companies will be asked to provide for solar panels while constructing public building or new malls. Town authorities will be told not to approve the plans if the provision is missing.

The government also plans to switch to solar power in public sector hospitals, educational institutions and offices.

In the first phase, solar panels will be installed at all government hospitals to charge batteries for uninterrupted power supply.

Citizens will also be encouraged to install solar panels to charge UPS systems. The government is also considering the Bank of Punjab leases where consumers would pay the capital cost in installments and the government would subsidise the loan by paying part of the interest.

Another proposal is to introduce a net metering system whereby consumers can install solar panels to produce electricity supplying their surplus to power distribution companies and pay only for the difference of units supplied received.

Off-grid power producer might be allowed to supply to local communities through small, isolated distribution lines not connected to the public grid.

Private investors would be encouraged to produce electricity and sell it in their vicinity. The government will only monitor and regulate the process.

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