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NTDC reveals flaws in transmission line project under CPEC

Published January 5, 2022 - Updated about 13 hours ago

LAHORE: The National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) has revealed that the commercial operation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s mega Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line Project it allowed to begin on Sept 1 last year was not in accordance with the Transmission Service Agreement (TSA).

The all-important project was launched without carrying out the Capability Demonstration Test (CDT) meant for testing the line’s installed capacity of evacuating 4,000MW from the power plants. While refusing to accord official approval to the Sept 1 Commercial Operation Date (COD) without fulfillment of the TSA in letter and spirit, the NTDC has also mentioned concerns raised by the project consultants over discrepancies in civil works, tower erection, material etc, Dawn has learnt.

“Actually, they (the NTDC top management) wrongly accepted the COD, allowing the commercial operation after conducting the 2,800MW evacuation test without carrying out the final test of the line’s designed / installed power evacuation capacity of 4,000MW in violation of the TSA. And now various issues have emerged in the wake of paying capacity charges to the Pak Matiari-Lahore Transmission Company (pvt) Limited (PMTCL), Line’s COD etc,” an official source told Dawn on Tuesday.

“The situation of Sept 1 COD of the country’s first 660kV High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission line seems to be serious,” the source claimed.

According to a letter of Jan 3, the NTDC General Manager (HVDC) informed his Managing Director about the latter’s direction (in the wake of Nepra’s letter) to speak on the prevailing issues related to the line. Observing the situation, the GM informed his boss that the project was signed between the NTDC and the M/S PMLTC for dispersal of 4,000MW power from the Matiari (Sindh) to Lahore. He further stated that the as per TSA agreement, the COD was to be completed after performance of 4,000MW power evacuation on Bi-Pole arrangement.

The HVDC GM further revealed that the NTDC’s Board of Directors (BoD), at its 187th meeting, authorised the NTDC MD to sign the addendum No.1 of TSA and addendum No.1 of the Operation & Maintenance (O&M) service agreement after fulfillment of all the codal formalities as approved by the ECC (Federal Government), conveyed vide ministry of energy (power division) letter of April, 2021. Accordingly, he said, the aforementioned addendum was signed between the NTDC and the PMLTC in which the COD was fixed as on Sept 1.

“Due to certain constraints, the CDT couldn’t be performed at 4,000MW as per actual TSA agreement on Bio-Pole arrangement. The then NTDC MD constituted a committee for CDT due to prevailing constraints. Meeting of the committee was held and on the recommendation of the owner and independent engineers, committee agreed to perform the CDT at at 2,800MW to save time, and later at 4,000MW as and when the National Power Control Centre (part of NTDC) allows which is still pending as per TSA agreement requirement,” explains the GM’s letter.

He said, accordingly, a meeting was held among the NTDC and the companies concerned including the PMLTC in respect of new option of CDT test. It also agreed for allowing a conditional COD after carrying out CDT at 2,800MW without having any addendum in the TSA by the competent authority. However, the CDT at 4,000MW as per original TSA is still pending.

The officer through letter further quoted the engineer’s letter in which it pointed out a number of problems regarding civil and tower erection works, quality of tower material, stringing workmanship etc that are yet to be rectified by the company concerned despite reminders issued on Dec 14 and 24, 2021.

“Keeping in view the above, approval of the COD cannot be accorded until fulfillment of all codal formalities as required in TSA and rectification of the discrepancies as conveyed to the PMLTC for rectification before true-up of tariff by the authority,” reads the letter.

NTDC’s HVDC GM, MD and the BoD chairman were not available for comments despite calls made by this reporter.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2022


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