ISLAMABAD-National Electric Power Regulatory Authority has showed displeasure over the ex-Wapda Distribution Companies (XWDiscos) for their failure to install earthing on poles to avoid fatal incidents despite colleting billions of rupees from the electricity consumers for the purpose and questioned where the billions were spent.
In a public hearing on account of failure to execute Earthing/Grounding of HT/LT Poles/Structures by Discos, the distribution companies were clueless regarding the utilization of billions of rupees collected from the electricity consumers for the installation of earthing on poles. The hearing which was chaired by new Chairman NEPRA, Waseem Mukhtar, imposed a fine of Rs 0.5 million on CEO Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) for not attending the hearing. The regulator has conducted four separate hearings for Lesco, Pesco, Fesco and Tesco.
During hearing, NEPRA noted that Discos will have to ensure replacement of transformers in certain time and warned that if a distribution company fails to replace transfers, it will be fined. The amount of fine will go into pocket of the consumers, the regulator maintained. The regulator also warned the Discos that it was working on a regulation to impose penalty on the officials involved in illegal deduction and disconnection of meters. NEPRA has started a probe regarding where multi-billion rupees were invested by Discos which were collected from the consumers to install earthing system on electric poles. It was informed that NEPRA had sought reports from all power distribution companies regarding execution of earthing and grounding of HT/LT Poles/Structures earthing system. Responses received from the power distribution companies were not satisfactory, NEPRA official said. The regulator noted that they had not submitted a proposal plan of earthing. Following this, the Nepra had decided to conduct random checking of earthing position.
It had come to know that either earthing was missing or results were not according to the standard, official of the regulator said. The authority decided to initiate a legal action against the Discos which will not meet the standard. During a public hearing on Lesco, it was informed by the NEPRA official that it had 670,000 poles structure but there was no earthing on more than 60 percent poles. The regional offices of Nepra had conducted random checking of earthing.
It was informed that earthing cost was included in demand note of the consumers, however, the amount was not spent for the purpose aiming to protect people from fatal incidents. Nepra authorities indicated to impose Rs 10 million fine on the company. The regulator also raised question on where the money had gone which was collected from the consumers for earthing. Shahid Haider, CEO Lesco, said that company system was old and therefore earthing was missing. He added that seasonal effects had also deteriorated the earthing system. The company had submitted two years plan to the regulator to install earthing system on 356000 poles, he added.
It also said that consumers had paid a cost but earthling system was not installed. It asked any action was taken against the company’s officials. It said that earthing was ongoing process which should have been continued to protect lives of the people. Power regulator also asked whether officials involved in violation had been held responsible or not. Nepra directed the company to submit a report regarding investment made on poles and money received from the consumers. It further directed that report should be vetted by the third party.
While hearing on Pesco, the Disco has claimed to have 400,000 poles that would require Rs 800 million to install earthing. PESCO has given a plan to secure its structure in five years, Nepra official informed. However, Chairman NEPRA asked that who will be responsible for the deaths in these five years?
Member Sindh NEPRA Rafiq Shaikh asked “Will we continue to carry dead bodies for five years?”. The SDO of the area in which earthing accident occurs will be responsible. In Fesco hearing, it was informed that Fesco had earthing system on 50 percent poles whereas there was no such system on remaining 50 percent. Fesco officials informed that company had completed a survey according to which 130,000 poles did not have earthing system. The company officials said that they would install earthing system from company resources. In Tesco hearing, official of the Tesco said that that they had shortage of funds as the Nepra had allowed only Rs 29 million for repair and maintenance. Tesco had already raised issue of low allocation of funds and filed a review petition. It was also informed that Gepco and Mepco were also directed to submit report in this regard.