Power agony likely to prolong; 18 plants still out of operation

Power agony likely to prolong; 18 plants still out of operation

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Dhaka – Although State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid has assured that the power supply situation will improve by May 27, many areas of the country, including Dhaka city, still have to experience power cuts. UNB news reported
Industry insiders believe it is not possible to have a smooth power supply due to the gas and water shortage, and non-operation of some plants for maintenance and other reasons amid the growing demand.
Experts, however, blamed the government’s wrong policies for the current power crisis.
On May 25, Nasrul Hamid had reaffirmed that the power supply situation would improve by Saturday (May 27). “We hope the power situation will improve and come to a near-normal position by Saturday as we have taken some measures,” he had said while briefing reporters at Biduyt Bhaban in the city.
Official data available with PDB website shows that out of 122 generation plants, 18 now remained out of operation for various reasons, including technical fault, maintenance, overhauling, gas shortage, drop in water level, and non-renewal of contracts with the owners of private power plants.
These 18 plants have a generation capacity of 2,160 MW while the country’s 122 plants’ total installed production capacity is 12,179 MW and derated capacity 12,578 MW.
Out of the 18 power generation units, some with 793 MW capacity remained out of production for gas shortage while others with 195 MW capacity cannot generate electricity due to a fall in water level in hydropower plants.
Besides, the production of some 545 MW power looks uncertain for various reasons, including long maintenance time and expiry of contracts with the government. Of them, only 100 MW Baghabari plant was supposed to resume operation on May 30.
However, nothing was mentioned in the PDB website about the possible resumption of operation of other plants.
Apart from the fall in generation, the 230 kV Ashuganj-Sirajganj line — a major transmission line — was affected by a recent storm. Two towers of the line which are located at the two ends of the Meghna River collapsed following the storm, disrupting the power transmission to the country’s northern part.
State Minister Nasrul Hamid admitted that it will take 7-8 months to repair these two towers. Until then, the country will be deprived of about 800 MW of electricity.
About the plants that remained out of production for gas shortage, he said the government is trying to divert gas to these plants from fertiliser factories. But experts believe this measure will not be fully effective as these plants need huge gas.
Meanwhile, PGCB officials said some areas still experience load-shedding due to problems in distribution networks.
The DPDC and Desco officials also admitted that some of the areas under their jurisdiction undergo load-shedding due to the shortage in electricity supply.
By the time, the power distribution network, especially in the coastal areas, was affected by cyclone Mora that hit the country on Tuesday.
Nasrul Hamid said around 23 transformers were completely destroyed by the storm in the coastal areas.
PDB executive engineer in Cox’s Bazar informed that some affected substations and distribution feeders were repaired by Wednesday.
But it was not possible to repair some REB-operated distribution lines, said officials.
However, experts in the power sector are blaming the government’s ‘wrong policy’ for the current power crisis.
Former PDB Chairman and former Power Secretary ANH Akhtar Hossain said the current crisis is a manifestation of the government’s wrong planning.
He said the government is perhaps in a cash crisis to pay private rental and other power plants from which it is purchasing power at a high rate. “As a result, these plants aren’t allowed to resume operation.”
Akhtar said there should be at least 10,000 plus available power generation since the government celebrated production of 15,000 MW. But the reality is totally different and generation does not cross 8,500 MW, he said.
Former Power Cell Director General BD Rahmatullah echoed Akhtar, saying the government is not providing authentic data about load-shedding.
“Rural people aren’t getting power from more than five hours a day. In many areas, they get electricity once in two or three days,” he said, adding, “But, neither the media nor the government is focusing on the power crisis in rural areas. The crisis hits headlines only when it turns acute in Dhaka city.”
He also said the Rural Electrification Board (REB) is claiming to provide about 3 lakh connections every month in rural areas. “But actually these people are getting only electric poles, not electricity,” he added.
The State Minister also admitted that the people in rural areas are experiencing a worse situation.
He said rural people consume only 20 percent of the total power generation while Dhaka city alone gets 50 percent and the other big cities consume the rest 30 percent power. “When a crisis turns acute, the main load is cut from the rural areas.”
At present, he said, the demand growth in rural areas is 15 percent while in urban areas it is 20 percent. “If we want to meet the country’s growing power demand, we’ll need additional 30,000 MW in the next three years,” he added.

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