Power outages back
Gas diverted to fertiliser factoriesManjurul Ahsan
Power outages have staged a comeback after Ramadan, particularly in the urban areas, as the Power Development Board has slashed electricity generation from fuel-oil run power plants, officials said.
Besides, Petrobangla, the state-run Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation, has also diverted around 50 million cubic feet of natural gas from power plants to fertiliser factories, they said.
They said that in the month of Ramadan the country was free from load shed with a few exceptions due to technical troubles in transmission and distribution system.
The PDB used the maximum capacity of diesel- and furnace oil-run plants during the month of Ramadan although the power supply situation in the rural areas had remained unchanged with 10-12 hours of load shedding a day, they said.
But now even consumers in the capital are experiencing power outages up to 5-6 times a day.
Officials said the frequency and duration of power outages would increase if the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission did not raise the price of electricity in accordance with the generation cost which had doubled because of increased dependence on fuel-oil-run power plants.
Shibli Noman, a resident of Mirpur, said, ‘We almost forgot the experience of load shedding in Ramadan. But it has started straining our lives again in hot and humid weather.’
Residents of Tejgaon, Badda, Rampura, Uttara, Mohammadpur, Dhanmondi, different neighbourhoods of the Old Town, Jatrabari, Khilgaon and Bashabo in the capital made similar allegations.
PDB member generation Tamal Chakrabarti, however, said that the frequency of power outages remained at a ‘tolerable limit’.
He said that the outages had been imposed as demand for electricity increased and Petrobangla had cut gas supply for power generation.
When asked why load shedding had returned, Power Division secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad posed a counter question, ‘Should not we save fuel-oil?’
‘We have tried to give people some ease through uninterrupted electricity supply during Ramadan. For that we used maximum capacity of the fuel-oil-run plants,’ he told New Age on Tuesday.
He also said that Petrobangla had diverted a portion of the gas supply to fertiliser factories keeping in mind the coming boro season.
Replying to a question, the Power Division secretary said that most of the Palli Bidyut Samities had given much more power connections than their capacities.
He said, ‘If a PBS gives power connections twice its capacity, then naturally consumers will have to experience power outages for 12 hours a day.’
Replying to a question, he said that PDB would revise the quantum of fuel-oil- fired electricity to be produced on the basis of re-fixed electricity price and the government subsidy to the sector.
BERC has decided to raise both the bulk and retail prices of electricity from September 1 although it is yet to announce the prices.
The PDB has submitted a revised proposal to the BERC to raise the bulk price of electricity from Tk 4.02 a kilowatt-hour (unit) to Tk 5.43 a unit with effect from July 1 this year.
PDB has also sought for Tk 4,111 crore in subsidy for the fiscal year 2012-13.
PDB spends around Tk 17 a kilowatt-hour (unit) of electricity on an average from diesel and furnace oil-run plants while its average generation cost is Tk 6.42 a unit.
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