Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC) will introduce five industrial power distribution grids in phases to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to the industrial hubs of Shyampur, Siddhirganj, Fatullah, Adamji, Pagla and Tajgaon in Dhaka. The grids will help reduce the use of costly captive power plants in industrial units. DPDC will able to supply 1400 MW of electricity from seven substations to five industrial hubs once the system is introduced. DPDC has almost finished the integration of the online new connections system for industrial customers in collaboration with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA).
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Sun, DPDC Managing Director Engineer Bikash Dewan shared the detailed plan of the distribution company to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply by 2024.What are the challenges DPDC faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and how did you overcome the challenges?
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we considered it as a 'disaster' and have created a central committee as well as area-based committees to ensure flawless operations. These committees are still manoeuvring with the view to monitoring the current operations.
How did the pandemic affect the projects being implemented by DPDC?
A total of five distribution projects have been delayed so far due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of the projects, the construction of new 132/33kV and 33/11kV substation will be completed in June 2021. This project is worth Tk 23.87 billion which started in 2014. To date, we have built a total of 15 substations of 33/11 kV. As a result, the power supply in the city has become more stable and reliable.
Moreover, DPDC has almost finished the project for providing online electricity connections to industrial hubs in collaboration with BIDA. We are also introducing five industrial hubs with the view to facilitating power supply to the industries.
What is the current demand for electricity? Has the demand increased like normal days?The demand has not been fully recovered yet, but the consumer demand will reach to the normal peak eventually. For instance, during coronavirus pandemic the total demand came down to 1028MW from the demand of 1700MW. As DPDC is bound to pay one per cent interest in the due bill to Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), DPDC sought a full waiver on the interest in June last year. To project the average loss, we are looking forward to minimising it to 7.22 per cent but at present, the system loss is 7.86 per cent.
What lessons did you take from the COVID-19 pandemic?
First of all, there was a lack of accurate coordination among us, and as a lesson, we have become more sincere about improving the quality of our services. We created committees with the view to make our services more consumer-friendly. Also, we have adopted automation technology to get rid of 'abnormality' in terms of billing. For instance, we have asked all of our meter men to send snap shots of meter reading. In addition, we have created Whatsapp Group to run flawless operational activities and also introduced DPDC call centre to ensure there is no issue or corruption.
How much the COVID-19 has affected the Tk 205 billion China-funded project?
Yes, the impact of coronavirus pandemic has affected the Chinese mega Project under which 40 substations will be built. Although the project was signed with the Chinese contractor in September 2019, the project began in December the same year.
At the beginning of the previous year, most of the workforces of the project went to their country to celebrate the Chinese New Year. After the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, most of our Chinese employees couldn't return due to lockdown and travel restrictions.
However, now that all of the workforces have returned, the project work is now progressing in full swing. To date, we have already completed the planning and basic design of the 52 substations. Also, the pilling work for a new warehouse in Tongi has been started. Besides, we are looking forward to starting 3 substations on a priority basis within the next 15 years. For this project, we have a total of 4 commercial iconic buildings from which we will get the commercial value and pay our debt easily. The four commercial buildings are situated in Tejgaon, Kakrail and Poribag.
When the Chinese-funded mega project will be completed?
We had the plan to finish the project by 2024 but due to the Covid-19, the overall work of the project has been delayed. However, we are expecting to complete the project by 2025.
What are the key components of the Chinese funded project?
Under this project, we have 14 substations of 132kV; 26 substations of 33/11 kV; 8 substations (Upgrade) of 132/33/kV.
Once the project is implemented, the capacity of 132kV level will go up to 5,330 MVA and 33 kV level to 4680 MVA.
Moreover, we are planning to take the total power distribution of Dhanmondi underground that means about 105 kilometres of overhead electric cables will go underground and there will be no cable visible in Satmasjid Road, Mirpur Road, City College and Greenherald School area.
Apart from these projects, we also have another large project which is to take all the towers situated at Hatirjheel area to underground. Hence, Hatirjheel will become more dynamic and beautiful.
How much loss DPDC had to face during the COVID-19 crisis?
During COVID-19, the billing was very challenging; hence we couldn't do meter reading manually. As a result, we faced significant system loss. Besides, we didn't face any issue or receive any complaint from those who have prepaid meters. And from our side, we decided not to cut off the connection and provided the uninterrupted service even if the balance were negative. Eventually, we had to withdraw out FDR to pay the bills. However, at present, we are recovering our losses.
When do you think DPDC will be able to provide uninterrupted electricity?
We are expecting to ensure uninterrupted power supply by 2024 and cent per cent power supply will also be ensured. Although DPDC is currently supplying 90 per cent uninterrupted power, the rest 10 per cent will be ensured soon.
One of the most significant achievements of DPDC is the implementation of duel source in 55 substations of 33kV. As a result, we can continue our operation flawlessly even though one of the sources is disrupted.
We have installed a 132KV/33kV substation at Dhaka University. Earlier, there was only one 132 kV substation, but now we have two 132kV substations. It helps to provide uninterrupted supply of electricity in this varsity area. In plain words, DPDC is striving and doing everything possible with the view to ensuring quality electricity.
Of the total 1,400,000 consumers, DPDC has a total of 6000 industrial subscribers.