Power costs fuel public outrage.

KARACHI -- Widespread public fury is igniting across the nation as power production costs hit an unprecedented high of Rs72 per unit, rendering electricity bills unmanageable and sparking a wave of discontent. The ongoing uproar stems from historical state and policy failures, compounded by authorities' short-term approaches. As citizens bear the burden of soaring bills, discussions surrounding sustainable energy alternatives have gained newfound urgency.

During a recent discussion, on a research report titled 'Fostering Solar PVs in High Loss Feeders: Mapping Solution', hosted by the Policy Research Institute for Equitable Development (PRIDE), the Secretary of the Sindh Energy Department, Abu Bakar Ahmed, shed light on the alarming situation. Ahmed revealed that the cost of power production has skyrocketed to Rs72 per unit from a mere Rs28 per unit just two years ago. This staggering surge in utility costs is primarily attributed to the reliance on one of the costliest fuels - residual fuel oil (RFO).

The inflated cost of production, Ahmed explained, is the result of factoring in operation and maintenance expenses, duties, and taxes associated with RFO-based electricity generation. He emphasised, 'Had international fossil fuel prices remained low and tariffs unchanged, the current wave of public anger in the country could have been averted.'

The escalation in power production costs is intrinsically tied to the continuous climb of international oil prices, coupled with the nation's heavy dependency on imported fuel sources. Ahmed noted, 'K-Electric is generating power from RFO-based plants,' underlining the urgency of finding more sustainable solutions.

The secretary highlighted a recurring state and policy failure: a penchant for ad hoc short-term solutions without a long-term energy strategy. Pakistan's energy landscape has undergone significant shifts, from hydropower dominance in its early years to a later emphasis on indigenous gas. Presently, with gas reserves dwindling and domestic supplies depleting, coal - particularly Thar coal - has emerged as the new focus.

While discussions about adopting solar and wind power solutions as alternatives to costly electricity are gaining traction, experts caution against...

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