A view of the rush in the Hyderi Market in Karachi during Eid shopping. — INP/File

Govt mulls energy conservation plan, early market closure on the cards

by Pakistan News
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A view of the rush in the Hyderi Market in Karachi during Eid shopping. — INP/File

  • PM approves plan to curb Rs380-400 billion annual electric theft 
  • Early market closure, 4-day working week suggested: official
  • One day work-from-home also suggested to conserve energy: official

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday approved the Power Division’s proposed plan to curb electricity theft of Rs380-400 billion annually, reported The News

The plan suggests outsourcing electricity bill collection to the private sector and policing to enforce a writ of electricity distribution companies (Discos).

The top-level session attended by the PM, ministers and top officials of the Energy Ministry (Petroleum and Power divisions) and Finance Ministry reflected on the plan for managing electricity theft. Power and petroleum sector issues such as the gas crisis and load management were also discussed in the meeting. However, oil and gas imports were not discussed, senior officials who attended the meeting told The News.

“Huge losses have been observed in five Discos that include Tesco, Pesco, Qesco, Hesco and Sepco,” an official told The News

The official added that there were proposals to shut markets at 7pm in winter and 8 pm in summer with four working days and one day of work from home in a week to conserve energy. The promotion of using electric bikes for the masses to use for transportation was also discussed in the meeting. Medical stores would remain open for 24 hours. The conservation and steps to cope with theft would be presented for further discussion in the federal cabinet for approval.

The participants were briefed that the import bill could drop by $1.5 to $2.5 billion per annum by enforcing the conservation measures, provided the plan is enforced by all provinces. The prime minister also ordered authorities to convert public sector offices and buildings to solar energy as soon as possible. The official revealed that the government plans to outsource the electricity billing collection to private companies and would award contracts for this in the first quarter of 2023.

Furthermore, the government would also legislate to allow Discos to set up dedicated police stations to deal with electricity theft. In addition, the government will increase the installation of advanced metering of infrastructure (AMI) by June 2023 on all high-loss feeders’ transformers, starting with feeders with the highest loss in their jurisdiction in descending order.

The AMI system will be installed on all industrial and commercial connections too, bulk consumers and one-point supply in descending order of their loads. This installation of the high-tech system without the man intervention will reduce pilferage significantly.

The official added that a separate independent project directorate would be established for this matter. Discos would share the timeline of completion of these projects with a dedicated project director, other teams and the Power Division.

He added that there would also be an option to disconnect the meter remotely. However, a third party could be engaged if needed for equipment removal. He said the outsourcing of bill distribution was possible if consumers’ phone numbers were available. A PDF e-bill could be sent to consumers on their smartphones with just one click.

The Discos will also align with meter manufacturers and contractors for specifications, features, and implementation of AMI. The areas with weak or missing mobile signals and meters communicating through Power Carrier Lines and Data Concentrator Units at transformers may be used.

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