The power sector crisis is going to be a challenge for the new government to conquer. It has plagued Pakistan for years despite promises of overcoming it by successive governments. An act which should be commended is the ability of the last government to overcome the energy deficit and show an increase in the amount of energy produced. However, the problem was that they could not sustain that production and that is a problem the new government will inherit. Work needs to be done to improve the transmission lines which cannot carry the newly added currents into the system.
The capacity payments at this point amount to Rs490 billion at the moment. Those payments need to be streamlined because as they are increasing, so is the electricity tariff for the consumers. This means that increased generation has increased the per unit costs and the lack of payments to private power companies is increasing the burden on the taxpayers. There is also a significant lag at the Ministry of Energy’s end. The solar division has not facilitated the adoption of the wind and solar energy alternates despite the lowering of price in the last three years. This resulted in a great tariff for the consumers but the lack of prioritisation prevents us from taking advantage. Same is the case with setting up small hydropower plants. At this point, Pakistan cannot afford such lags and those appointed for these roles need to be as vigilant as possible.
If bodies such as the K-electric are underproducing than their actual capacity, they need to be held accountable. At the same time, the role of the provincial bodies is very important in the process but if there are reports of mismanagement, that needs to be looked into. The new government will be under a lot of fire if the country sees another five years without a necessity as basic as the electricity. This not only affects businesses but also pushes the average Pakistani to cope up with extreme weathers, even more so because of the lack of attention given to environmental concerns.
NEPRA has alluded that the energy policy and plan now curtails the independence to take any concrete action because any action of the body is appealable in court and they have to put up with bureaucratic red tape to actually be able to implement a policy. These are grave challenges and ones that must be addressed to put the country on the path of surplus energy production.