Upper Chitral denied power as PEDO, PESCO wrangle over tariffs

Over 15,000 houses located in Koh union council of Lower Chitral and most parts of Upper Chitral have been without electricity for the last three years when flashfloods washed away the PEDO-operated 4.5 megawatts Reshun powerhouse supplying them electricity.

However, parts of the district connected with the Pesco transmission system are getting electricity after 36 megawatt unit 1 of Golen Gol hydropower began test production last week. The two remaining units of 36MW each are likely to begin production in March and May respectively.

A WAPDA official said that PESCO and PEDO were to blame for failure to provide power to their consumers in Upper Chitral, which was not only adding to the woes of the people but also adding to their losses as power consumption was far below than production.

“We can produce up to 15MW but the consumption is hovering between 3.5MW and 4MW,” he said, adding that they were losing money. The official said PESCO had committed to purchase 11MW from WAPDA but currently, their consumption was about 3.5MW. He said it was their job to generate power and distribution was the job of the PESCO and PEDO.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government also issued a statement blaming PESCO for the delay. The statement said the government had already requested the power utility to provide electricity to the people of Upper Chitral through its transmission system. KP energy and power department has also written a letter to the PESCO chief seeking the connecting of Golen Gol with the provincial government transmission system in Upper Chitral.

The Jan 23 letter notes that PEDO  is ready to evacuate power from the Golen Gol hydropower through its existing transmission line for the customers of the flood affected Reshun powerhouse. “The connectivity process should be done at the Juti Lasht, Chitral town,” the letter said. It said that the mechanism/modalities of tariff and wheeling charges will be mutually agreed keeping in view the existing tariff in the district and that PEDO has no objection to utilize its existing transmission line for testing and commissioning of the Golen Gol hydro project.

It also said that PEDO was ready to take electricity as well ready to carryout to required modifications to its transmission system on war footing to avoid any law and order situation. A provincial government official told Dawn that both sides had yet to sign a MoU on the matter. He said PESCO was creating problems citing a lack of payment mechanism.

The official said PESCO could have adjusted electricity cost in Upper Chitral against the province’s dues towards the power utility accruing from the use of the Pehur hydropower supply.

“Our transmission system in Upper Chitral is currently active and it supplies power from diesel generators,” he said. In a text response to this correspondent’s question, PESCO chief engineer Akbar Khan said the Golen Gol project generation had been taped to the newly-established Juti Lasht grid station and had begun ‘power evacuation’ to the existing power utility feeders, supplying electricity to almost 16,000 consumers of the Lower Chitral.

He said power utility under the coordination with WAPDA had commissioned two grid stations in Juti Lasht and Drosh areas during the last two months. Mr Akbar said as for the power supply to Upper Chitral, the area was fed from the PEDO-operated Rashun powerhouse washed away by floods in 2015.

He said they had asked PEDO to set their power networks right to feed power on ‘one point supply’ basis on the PESCO-approved tariffs but PEDO neither officially approached them nor had they applied in writing to connect the area with the new established grid station of Juti Lasht. Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2018

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