Energy Ministry demands Rs 1.25b : Load-shedding reduction plan

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    KATHMANDU, SEP 17 –

    The Ministry of Energy (MoE) has asked the government for Rs 1.25 billion to implement its Load-Shedding Reduction Action Plan that aims to bring down power cuts to 12 hours daily during the dry season. The MoE submitted the action plan to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the cabinet on Friday.

    Ministry of Energy“If the government wants the ministry to cut load-shedding substantially, it should provide the money to apply the schemes suggested in the action plan,” said MoE spokesperson Anup Kumar Upadhya. He added that after the PMO and the cabinet okay the plan, the ministry will implement it by putting it on the fast track.

    The MoE has asked the Finance Ministry to release Rs 330 million to build a 15-km power line linking Duhabi-Kataiya to import 100 MW of electricity from India.

    The MoE’s Load-Shedding Reduction Action Plan has proposed a two-day weekend in government and private offices and educational institutions. The ministry said that the extra holiday would lead to energy savings of 400,000 units daily.

    The two-day weekend plan will be launched in the beginning of winter and be extended till the rainy season. Office hours will be lengthened to 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, according to the plan.

    An MoE official said the shortened working week would help save energy generated by the storage-type Kulekhani project. Overall, the additional holidays will help reduce energy consumption by 10 MW. “Closing factories, banks, corporate houses and schools will save 800,000 l of diesel a week, which will give some relief to debt-stricken Nepal Oil Corporation too,” said the official.

    The action plan has included a stern provision against electricity theft. Power will be cut to areas where electricity theft is high. “As it has been difficult to control theft due to political protection, we believe that switching off the supply will help to discourage the practice,” said a MoE official. Concerned by the rolling blackouts, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had instructed the MoE and the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to come up with feasible measures to limit power shutdowns to 12 hours daily during the winter. He has also asked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their recent meeting in Iran to supply 200 MW to Nepal. The prime minister decided to intervene after the NEA forecast that load-shedding during the winter could go up to 21 hours a day.

    The action plan has also proposed supplying furnace oil to the multi-fuel plant at Duhabi, Biratnagar and diesel to the plant in Hetauda at subsidized rates. Energy secretary Hari Ram Koirala has formed a committee to study the feasibility of operating the Duhabi plant by the local industrial corridor. The committee led by Kush Kumar Joshi, former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), is yet to submit its report. “Regular operation of these two plants will contribute greatly to cutting load-shedding,” the report said.

    Meanwhile, the MoE has asked the government to provide compensation for the loss incurred while supplying energy imported from India. According to the NEA, the country imported 750 million units of energy in the last fiscal year. Though the NEA purchases the energy at Rs 7.23 per unit, it actually costs Rs 9.69 due to technical leakage. The NEA has also asked for compensation for previous losses.

    Other measures the action plan has proposed include recommending early construction of the 400 kV Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line and purchasing energy from captive plants of local industrial units, among others.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post