KARACHI: The city witnessed an unexpected wave of power outages, even in areas which are exempted from loadshedding, as a major power breakdown that started late Sunday night continued on Monday, with the city’s sole supply utility saying that the situation could lead to an “increase in the shortfall between demand and supply.”
The fresh crisis emerged due to a fault in the 500 kV NKI-Jamshoro circuit of the National Grid at around Sunday-Monday midnight which led to a major power breakdown that hit almost the entire city. On Monday, many Karachiites woke up to a text message on their cell phones from the K-Electric announcing loadshedding to manage the shortfall.
Many areas which are exempted from loadshedding also witnessed one or two hours of power outages amid the worsening situation.
Those neighbourhoods which regularly face loadshedding suffered extended time in their schedule in the name of load management.
KE attributes hours-long outage to fault in 500kV line; fears situation may worsen when demand increases
Later in the evening, the KE came up with a brief statement, carrying sketchy details of the current situation. Though the power utility called the current impact on power supply due to “a temporary fault,” it did not mention the timeframe required to fix the problem.
“The power supply to Karachi was partially impacted due to a temporary fault in the 500 kV NKI-Jamshoro circuit of the National Grid,” a KE spokesperson said in a statement. “KE teams remained in close coordination with NTDC authorities, and NTDC maintenance teams had already begun restoration efforts on the affected circuit. During this period, KE expected a slight increase in the shortfall between demand and supply.”
The power utility admitted that the company had to undertake load management of under-one hour in a few areas that are exempted from loadshedding at a time to bridge the gap and maintain system stability.
“The updates regarding this situation are being shared with customers through KE Live App and social media channels,” the statement said.
The situation that emerged on Monday night plunged even the airport area into darkness. The Civil Aviation Authority officials, when contacted some 15 minutes after the breakdown, told Dawn that due to some technical reasons, the generators did not take over automatically after the breakdown that caused delay in the supply of alternative power.
The latest crisis coincided with a fresh plea from the KE which has sought another Rs3.02 per unit in tariff adjustment for the April-June quarter of this year. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has accepted the petition for a public hearing on Oct 19 (Thursday) to examine whether KE`s request was justified and whether the company`s claim for Rs13.2 billion write-off against unrecovered bills should be allowed.
KE’s demand for Rs3.02 per unit additional quarterly tariff adjustment is based on a revision in price settings at Rs2.57 per unit during April and June, followed by an annual inflationary impact of 87 paise per unit on operations and maintenance on top of already covered expenses in base tariff, and a couple of other previous positive and negative changes.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2023