Women working in engineering, customer service, and other departments of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company continued to receive information technology training as part of the Power Distribution Project. The project is helping reform the energy sector by improving the performance of Pakistan’s power distribution companies so that they can reduce losses and generate more revenue. In total, 1,100 people are being trained.
The main component of the Energy Efficiency Program was intended to demonstrate potential energy savings throughout the agricultural sector by replacing old, inefficient tube well pumps with more efficient equipment. The program succeeded in saving approximately 10.4 megawatts of power, but pricing policies for water and electricity reduced financial incentives for farmers to replace inefficient pumps. USAID decided to end the program by July 31, 2012, and focus instead on demand management through energy distribution companies.
The Power Distribution Project has saved a total of 50.6 megawatts of power through its efforts to improve distribution company performance by introducing new technology and improved work practices in all nine government-owned distribution companies. The project is also (1) strengthening distribution company governance through assistance to the Ministry of Water and Power and distribution company boards of directors, (2) reducing losses and improving revenues and customer services through technical and procedural system improvements, and (3) improving institutional performance through capacity building and training.
USAID reported that it continues to experience challenges in implementing energy projects at the Guddu, Jamshoro, and Muzaffargarh thermal power plants. These generating companies are having difficulties completing their procurements, which has slowed down project disbursements.
In response, USAID has increased the personnel capacity building component of the thermal plant projects in procurement, and in financial, human resources, and administrative management. USAID has also been closely collaborating with Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power and the Economic Affairs Division of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Statistics to address project bottlenecks.
The report said that nearly half of the Pakistani population lacks access to modern energy services. With diminished hydroelectric generation because of low water levels, rolling blackouts often last eight to 20 hours, constraining economic development and disrupting health, education and other services. This form of energy rationing will likely continue until the monsoon rains fill the reservoirs.
“Power shortages have serious implications,” the report said, and added that according to the Asian Development Bank, power and gas shortages had reduced economic growth by 3-4 percent over the last two years. In addition to stunting growth, persistent difficulties in the sector can be destabilising. In late June, anger over limited electrical supplies led to riots in which Pakistani government buildings were attacked and two deaths occurred.
“High subsidies, low tariff collection rates and distorted prices have discouraged private companies from investing in energy infrastructure and building additional capacity,” the report said, adding that the US government and other donors provide technical assistance to help the Pakistani government develop appropriate energy pricing, regulatory and privatisation policies and assist in implementing Pakistan’s energy reforms plan. In addition, the United States aims to increase electricity generation, decrease transmission losses and increase cost recovery by investing in selected energy infrastructure.
The report said that the USAID has nine energy programmes underway to meet the growing energy demands. It added that USAID’s programmes seek to help the Pakistani government supply hydropower through the completion of Gomal Zam and Satpara dams and the rehabilitation of Tarbela Dam. The USAID is also rehabilitating three thermal power stations.