Electric shocks


In a classic manifestation of the age-old chicken-egg question, the government believes the power consumers’ rapid shift to solar energy is responsible for the umpteenth surge in electricity prices. So while there’s no stopping the skyrocketing electricity bill, the end-consumers should not consider alternative solutions because they would reflect badly on future prices.
Meanwhile, the new hike would unload yet another burden of Rs 2.75 per unit, forcing the working classes to contemplate whether to pay bills or put food in their bellies.
The regulatory body believes that such an increase is crucial to balance the operational costs of power generation and distribution. Fair enough, but who in the current government is ready to stand up and fight for all that they had promised during the election campaign?
Are they willing to sit back and let Nepra squeeze more blood out of the inflation-battered Pakistanis in the name of fuel adjustment surcharges?
Although there’s not much that can be done with regard to the previously agreed upon IMF stipulations, no international agreement can force the managers to close their eyes to the gaping realities and let sheer incompetence run the show.
Instead of raising hullaballoo over little relief by the likes of solar panels (which can only be availed by an extremely small percentage of the lot), discussions should have focused on the inefficiencies in the energy chain. No good can come from speculated plans to cut tariffs for solar net metering, especially when the industrial sector has already heavily invested in solar panels in a desperate bid to keep afloat.
A better option could be to roll out immediate solutions to distribution losses and force giants to cough up due payments. Power theft might paint a picture of locals installing “kundas” and rejoining wires to enjoy a few extra hertz but the reality is far more multi-layered and involves many from the billionaire’s club.
In light of the pressing need for reduced power consumption, it is crucial that the new government directs its attention toward enhancing the sustainability and capacity-building of the power sector.