What led to major power outage on October 13?

A gas station worker takes a nap after a major power breakdown took place on October 13, 2022, in Karachi. — APP
A gas station worker takes a nap after a major power breakdown took place on October 13, 2022, in Karachi. — APP

On October 13, several parts of the country — mainly in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan — came to a standstill as a major power outage hit them following a fault in the national grid’s southern transmission system.

It took the power authorities several hours to restore the transmission system across Pakistan and the electricity supply returned to normal almost 24 hours later.

Following this, the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) formed a committee to probe the reasons behind the “partial blackout”.

A four-member committee was formed with NDTC’s General Manager (Technical) Lahore Muhammad Mustafa as its convener, while General, Manager (AM) North Lahore Anwar Ahmed Khan, Chief Engineer (TSG) North Lahore Muhammad Ijaz Khan, and Chief Engineer (OP) NPCC Islamabad Muhammad Zakaria Member were its members.

A handout from the Power Division Wednesday said that the NTDC’s committee has determined the reasons behind the blackout and the Ministry of Energy is taking immediate disciplinary action in light of the report.

The statement mentioned the following reasons:

  • The first reason for the blackout is the nondurable and sub-standard work done on Tower No 26 of Karachi’s nuclear power plants K-2 and K-three three years ago — in 2019.
  • The failure of the delivery system calls into question the quality of the equipment used in 2019 and the efficiency of the workers. The connectors used on it were not made for the transmission line but were modified and used for this temporary interconnection.
  • The project team used 25-year-old dilapidated conductors in 2019 at Tower No. 26, 26-A and 27.
  • In 2019, despite the sensitivity of nuclear power plants, it was not regularly repaired and maintained as per the prescribed standards.

In response to the inquiry report related to last week’s blackout, the spokesperson of the Atomic Energy Commission issued a clarification and said that the commission was not responsible for the transmission of electricity, adding that installing and repairing the transmission grids was the job of the NTDC.

He added that the breakdown of the transmission line adversely affected the K2 and K3 plants, adding that the impression of sub-standard repair of K2 and K3 in the media reports is not “at all correct”.

“The safety and maintenance of our nuclear power plants are of the highest standard. And it is not related to the transmission line, the spokesperson added.

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