Federal cabinet approved low-cost solar energy projects

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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved drastic measures, including installation of advanced metering infrastructure and low-cost solar energy projects, to overhaul the existing electricity generation and distribution system.

A meeting of the cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, also approved steps to complete the ongoing census exercise, provide seeds to farmers for the wheat crop in collaboration with provinces, besides appointments in power distribution companies (Discos), and action against corrupt officials.

According to the Prime Minister Office (PMO), the cabinet approved the expansion of the current installation of advanced meters project from Islamabad to other parts of the country to overcome the issue of line losses which stood at seven per cent. The cabinet also approved the installation of advanced meters on power transformers.

The plan to overhaul the power sector includes appointments in Discos, action against corrupt officials in the power division, measures to reduce line losses and stem power theft, and low-cost solar energy initiatives. The prime minister said well-reputed officers should be deputed in the distribution companies to improve their functioning and reduce the line losses to ensure better public delivery.

During the meeting, the officials of the power division apprised the federal cabinet on power theft, line losses, bills, and recovery, along with issues pertaining to recoveries from the feeders running into losses, and the steps taken in this regard.

The cabinet directed the power division to present a comprehensive report on vacant posts for essential staffers in Discos and stressed that the recruitment process should be transparent and at par with global practices.

Expressing his dissatisfaction over the average seven per cent line losses, the prime minister set up a committee headed by Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif to devise a plan and submit recommendations for reforms in power distribution companies.

The cabinet also approved the recommendation of the power division for the promotion of low-cost solar power energy initiatives. These steps included running the existing power units on solar energy during the day instead of using imported fuel for power generation, besides permission to the private investors to install 11kV feeders in the rural areas. The cabinet decided to shift government-owned buildings to solar power to save fuel.

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