Rural Electrification Board proposed to electrify off-grid villages

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Reon Energy chief executive officer Mujtaba Haider Khan has proposed that government should establish Rural Electrification Board and assign it to electrify 60 million off-grid rural inhabitants, which constitute some 30 percent of the country’s total populace.

The CEO of Reon Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dawood Lawrencepur Limited, floated this idea, talking to journalists at his office. Khan said that the proposed body should be separate from the existing power authorities. He said that energy policy makers had largely ignored 30 percent of the population during last seven decades and deprived them of energy that is the engine of economy. “Enough is enough,” he said, urging the PTI-led federal government to introduce appropriate incentives to encourage private sector market players who want to invest in that very sector. Reon Energy CEO said renewable energy is the best way to help reduce growing energy shortage. He said indigenous and cost-efficient power production from renewable sources would also help significantly in reducing the burden of heavy import bill. “Integration of indigenous renewable power from wind, water and solar on massive scale will boost our image in the international community as one of the frontline states in the war against climate change and global warming,” he asserted, adding that solar and battery hybrid solutions could be made available on easy payment terms to residents of sparsely populated areas. This energy solution is cheaper and environment-friendly. He said State Bank’s Green Financing Scheme is a wonderful incentive and its duration should be extended to 15 years for residential customers and independent power producers (IPPs).

Mujtaba H Khan expressed concern over poor implementation of policies of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority particularly on ‘net-metering’ and ‘power-wheeling.’ He said power-wheeling system was meant to permitting small power producers to sell directly their generated electricity to industrial and residential consumers, ending monopoly of big power distributors in the country. He noted that power distribution and transmission companies resisted power-wheeling system citing technical reasons and lack of clarity.

He said net-metering was to promote alternative and renewable energy (ARE). The initiative allows an ordinary consumer to sell surplus power that generated through solar energy or wind power to be sold to the concerned DISCOs. A streamlined net-metering is crucial for take up of distributed solar system and DISCOs must set annual net-metering targets and meet a certain percentage of their new demand from distributed solar systems.

The Reon CEO said that transmission sector should be opened to private investment to avoid idle capacity due to transmission bottlenecks. He said National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) has an impossible job of connecting every single IPP coming on stream and that’s resulting in huge amount of unutilised generation capacity in the system. He opposed awarding 20 plus years PPA at a guaranteed capacity payment and demanded that it should be abolished. He suggested that a maximum 10-year-term should be introduced under a new power policy. He said the country should encourage entrepreneurs wanting to sell power in a wholesale market after the PPA term expires. Khan called upon the policy makers to replace generation from less-efficient fossil fuel-based plants such as those on furnace oil with renewable power. He compared that Pakistan’s overall T&D losses of 17.5 percent were too high compared to Bangladesh i.e. 11.4 percent. He said utilities could also be assigned promoting energy efficiency by promoting more efficient appliances in the areas fall under their jurisdiction.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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