Saturday, 30 September, 2023

Area-based Load Shedding Not Maintained

VIP zones get priority, others left in the dark

VIP zones continue to receive preferential treatment from power distribution companies, while the rest of the customers are left with limited electricity supply, due to a deficit of up to 3,000MW.

Despite the government's introduction of area-based load shedding during the Ramadan for proper management and rationing of electricity, lack of coordination among distribution companies has prevented its implementation.

Additionally, the distribution companies lack accurate forecasts of electricity generation. Private power producers are also facing a financial crisis, with outstanding arrears amounting to Tk 180 billion, hindering the operation of their power plants.

Official data reveals that Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) faces a deficit of approximately 420MW, Dhaka Electric Supply Company (DESCO) faces a deficit of 317MW, and the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) faces a massive deficit of 2,000MW.

In an effort to address the shortage, the distribution companies have resorted to implementing midnight load shedding, placing an additional burden on children, the elderly, and students.

Residents have shared their grievances, with one resident from Bashundhara reporting experiencing five hours of load shedding, including a power cut at 2 am on Sunday.

Moreover, many consumers have been shocked to receive significantly higher electricity bills for May, despite experiencing power cuts.

Another resident from Uttara complained of receiving an exorbitant bill, more than double the amount from the previous month. The DPDC managing director, Bikash Dewan, admitted that the company is prioritizing the supply of electricity to key installations and VIP zones due to the lack of alternatives.

He expressed the company's shift in approach to address the ongoing crisis and requested patience from consumers until the generation situation improves.

DESCO's managing director, Kawser Amir Ali, noted that DESCO consumers are receiving only 1,000MW of electricity against a demand of 1,317MW.

Consequently, DESCO is forced to implement four to five hours of load shedding, even during the late hours of the night. Meanwhile, the chairman of BREB explained that rural areas are facing extensive load shedding, with power cuts lasting 8-10 hours, as they receive only 7,000MW of electricity against a demand of 9,000MW.

He urged the public to remain patient during this crisis period and stated that officials have been instructed to introduce electricity rationing.

The BPDB-owned liquid fuel-fired power plants, including Hathazari, Daudkandi, and Gopalganj, each with a capacity of 100MW, have been shut down due to fuel scarcity, exacerbating the private power generation crisis.

The BPDB has not procured fuel to operate these power plants in the public sector. Furthermore, inefficient gas-fired power plants are being prioritized over efficient ones, leading to poor management and public suffering. The 1,320MW Pyra power plant is scheduled to join the list of inactive power plants due to delays in opening a Letter of Credit (LC) caused by payment issues. Chinese CMC, the company responsible for the plant, has suspended LC opening due to a delay in the payment of $29.80 crore for fuel supply.

The Ministry of Finance recently paid around $10 crore to the company, enabling them to open an LC and procure 0.4 million tonnes of fuel for the power plant.

To address outstanding bills owed to public and private power producers, the BPDB has collected around Tk 2,800 crore in advance for electricity bills.

However, the increased bulk tariff, which has resulted in a loss of Tk 0.60 per unit of electricity, has put significant pressure on the BPDB. The advance bill collection has further exacerbated the financial strain faced by the organization.