Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Plant is getting operational.
Water and Power-Development Authority (WAPDA) has yet to fulfill all of its fundamental requirements when it comes to providing power throughout the country. In order to combat the energy shortfall, the power company is gearing up to inaugurate the new Neelum-Jhelum hydro power plant early next year.
Is WAPDA ready for the launch?
The cost of the project will be around Rs 515 billion. The astronomical costs of the project has made key government institutions cautious about the power plant.
The institutions think that it will be disadvantageous to launch the plant now, as there has been no proper planning behind it. The project, in its current state, has the potential of failing like the Nandipur power project.
Furthermore, WAPDA has not yet applied to the National Electric Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) for tariff setting. This setting process can take at least one month.
The concerned authorities are so far behind in the planning that they have not even decided about who is going to apply for this project. Will this project fall under their umbrella organization. Should the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project Company (NJC) itself apply for the tariff setting as a special purpose vehicle for the plant? Questions remain.
In addition to all of this, the NJC has not even started talks with Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) regarding the Power Purchase Agreement. This requirement needs to be fulfilled before the plant can sell electricity.
Absence of tripartite agreement
The project has been under development for 15 years. The Azad Kashmir government, Wapda and the federal government have yet to reach an agreement. This agreement will cover their rights and responsibilities under the project.
Shortcomings on the Technical side
The China and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), contracted by WAPDA on the project, is not ready to face the problems that may come with its launch.
They are not ready to complete the 525kV transmission lines, powering 525kV switchyard or tests performed by third party for validation of the project.
A meeting on 14th November to discuss the progress of the project. The chairman of WAPDA was guided about switchyard. This will ensure that it would not cause any harm. The switchyard is still under construction. This would require another 2-3 months to be operational. The validation process alone can take over a couple of months.
A meeting between CMEC, Wapda, NJC and NTDC on Nov 14 noted a total of six incomplete tasks. It was concluded at the end of the meeting that there are six major tasks that are to be done. WAPDA has also made an announcement of inaugurate the project by the end of February 2018.