Matiari-Lahore transmission line project hits a snag

By Ahmad Ahmadani

  • Chinese company refuses to construct project at tariff determined by NEPRA

The 878-kilometre-long Matiari-Lahore transmission line project has hit a snag, as the Chinese firm working on it has refused to construct the project at the tariff determined by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA). The Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) has now submitted a review petition against the tariff with the regulator on the advice of the Ministry of Water and Power.

The Matiari-Lahore transmission line project – Pakistan’s first high-voltage transmission line project worth $2.1 billion – is being built under the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), as per the decision of the Ministry of Water & Power.

The NEPRA had, on the request of the PPIB, approved a transmission tariff of 0.7 cent per unit for evacuating the electricity and its transmission for a period of 25 years. All power consumers were supposed to be charged collectively a total of Rs157 billion after the determination of the tariff. But, power consumers, with the submission of the review petition, now find extra burden of Rs44 billion if the Authority approved the review request, sources told Pakistan Today.

Documents revealed that the China Electric Power had declined to build the project on the tariff earlier approved by the NEPRA. However, the PPIB has now submitted a review petition with the NEPRA on the advice of the Power Ministry, seeking a Rs44 billion increase in the total cost of the project which would make possible to charge power consumers a total of Rs201 billion over the stated period.

Seeking to approve Rs1.01 per unit for a period of 25 years for the project, the PPIB, in its review petition, made it clear to the Authority that the construction of the project at the approved tariff was not possible.

Background interviews and discussions with officials of the Power Ministry disclosed that power load shedding would not end in 2018 if construction of this high-voltage power transmission line project was not feasible.

Annually 35 billion power units would be transmitted through the Matiari-Lahore transmission line and transmission of electricity from the power projects being built in Sindh province to the province of Punjab was do-able. This high transmission line would have a power wheeling capacity of 4,000MW.

Informed sources said that in comparison the requested cost of Matiari-Lahore transmission line was higher than the cost of CASA-1000 transmission line. Similarly, additional cost of the project had been proved in the NTDC (National Transmission and Despatch Company) report.

The authority would announce its decision on the request of the PPIB during the upcoming month. However, it was against the NEPRA act to pass on additional burden to power consumers, they added.

The Matiari-Lahore transmission line project will have the maximum capacity of transmitting 4,000 MW from generation capacity of about 4,950 MW. The transmission line will receive electricity from coal-based Engro Thar, Jamshoro, Sino Sindh Resources and Oracle power plants as well as from K2 and K3 nuclear power projects.

The proposed transmission line will start from Matiari district near Hyderabad in Sindh and end at Punjab district of Nankana Sahib near Lahore. With 360-km portion of it falling in Sindh, the transmission line will mostly run through Punjab.

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