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No ban on solar, wind plants in Sindh, Senate committee told

No ban on solar, wind plants in Sindh, Senate committee told

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power was informed on Tuesday that there was no ban on setting up solar and wind power plants in Sindh, though it has been suspended for some time for reasons of tariff determination.

At a meeting of the committee presided over by Senator Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, senators belonging to Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa accused the federal government of depriving their provinces of setting up power plants using alternative sources of energy.

Senator Taj Haider of the PPP said restrictions on solar and wind projects in Sindh were unjustified. “We are repeating history. The Thar coal project was disrupted in 1997 which eventually led to the current power crisis.”

Also read: Call for promoting alternative sources of energy

He said the federal government should extend support to make the Thar coal project a success. A railway line should be laid from Islamkot to Badin for the purpose. The federal government was not playing its role for early completion of the project, he added.

Water and Power Secretary Mohammad Younus informed the committee that wind and solar projects in Sindh had been suspended in the wake of tariff determination by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra). “Now the tariff has been reduced for the wind project from Rs31.50 to Rs10.30 per unit and that for solar from Rs14.50 to Rs11,” he said.

The secretary said the power generation policy 2015 allowed the provinces to set up their own electricity generation and distribution projects.

The chairman and some members of the committee supported the policy and said Punjab had taken a number of steps to generate electricity.

Mr Younus said there were 10 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in the country and since the maximum electricity demand came from Punjab, it was given the maximum supply from the national grid.

The committee was told that the federal government was focussing on projects based on liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate 3,500MW power while transmission lines were also being upgraded.

The water and power secretary said the federal government was initiating various hydropower generation projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan. Even the KP government could build its own power projects, he added.

But Senator Noman Wazir of the PTI said the KP government had not been granted federal guarantees to initiate power projects in the province, which was unfair. He said the power ministry should take steps to stop theft in the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) system.

“All political interference in Discos should be stopped and our government in the KP and the PTI will support the federal government in this regard,” he added.

When pointed out that recovery of electricity dues was low in Peshawar’s University Town, Senator Wazir said the required number of police personnel had been provided to Pesco to boost its recovery drive.

Some members of the committee said there was no justification for loadshedding in Swat and Malakand because recovery was quite high in these areas.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2015

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