The credit for the success in ending load-shedding goes to one person: NEA chief Kulman Ghising
In my last article, I had said that the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) does make headlines but almost always for the wrong reasons. I am sure a vast majority of Nepalis thinks this way. However, the NEA recently made headlines for a right reason: making the Kathmandu Valley a load-shedding-free zone. Both the Energy Minister and the chief executive of NEA have claimed that there will be no power cuts at least in the valley even during the dry season. The valley denizens are confused over whether to trust Energy Minister Janardan Sharma and NEA chief Kulman Ghising.
Will there be really no load-shedding in the capital this dry season as Sharma and Ghising claim? Or is it just a publicity stunt? These are questions boggling the minds of many at present.
When Ghising was appointed the Managing Director of NEA, the country’s sole power off-taker, some two and a half months ago, he had said his focus would be on three things: ending the load-shedding, improving the financial health of NEA and Making Nepal self-reliant in energy.
The immediate reaction was: it’s easier said than done!
Indeed, it’s easier said than done. However, there has been no power cut in Kathmandu since Tihar, the festival of lights. During the same time last year, the valley denizens were forced to cope up with as long as seven hours of load-shedding. But now there is no load-shedding in Kathmandu valley. How was this possible?
“This has been possible because of the management of demand and supply, repairing of transformers at some substations in the valley, and following the policy of optimum utilization of available electricity,” Ghising summed up the reasons behind no power cut in the valley in a recent television talk show. It is a tall order but we will leave no stone unturned to achieve this, he added.
Valley residents who are both happy and surprised to see uninterrupted power supply since Tihar, however, are not ready to believe this unless they see it happen. January, February and March, the driest months of the dry season, are yet to come. These are the months when the water flow in our rivers is the minimum. These months will be the real test for NEA and Ghising.
It’s not just Kathmandu valley that is getting uninterrupted power supply. After the first week of November, NEA started supplying electricity throughout the country, round the clock, even after industries resumed operation after the festive holidays. This is, no doubt, something amazing for the people. According to Ghising, demand-side management has made it possible. “This year we hope that load-shedding outside the valley will be limited to 2-3 hours,” he said.
Ghising says he hasn’t done anything new to end load-shedding, “but just observed the energy demand pattern of consumers and managed the demand accordingly.” But this has raised a serious question. If no power cut in the Valley and minimum power cut outside the valley was possible, then why were the people compelled to endure long hours of load-shedding—up to 14 hours a day—for the past several years? What were the former NEA bosses doing? Were they working in cahoots with generator and inverter sellers so that the latter’s business would boom and they could take a cut from the profit? Ghising’s predecessors need to answer these questions.
Needless to say, the news of no power cut in the valley has already left the generator and inverter sellers uneasy and fidgety. They are worried that their business would slump now.
So they might try to influence the energy minister or Ghising himself in order to create hurdles in the journey from darkness to light. Both the energy minister Sharma and NEA chief Ghising should remain alert against such maneuvering.
According to NEA, power demand in the valley ranges from 100 MW at midnight to 300 MW in the evening. To meet this demand, some cynic people are saying, the NEA is emptying Kulekhani I and II reservoirs, Nepal’s only two storage projects. But Ghising brushed aside these allegations. According to him, using power plants other than Kulekhani I and II, to their full capacity, prompt response to any fault in transmission and distribution, and strengthening transmission and distribution are the areas the NEA is now focusing on.
Similarly, some people believe the reason for no load-shedding in the Kathmandu valley is increased import from India (Nepal is importing more than 300 MW of electricity from India at present). But Ghising dismisses this allegation as well. “The electricity being imported from India is not supplied to Kathmandu valley,” he clarified.
They say success has many fathers. So there are politicians trying to take credit for this success of ending load-shedding. However, the credit for this success of ending load-shedding in the valley and minimizing load-shedding in other parts of the country goes to only one person: NEA chief Kulman Ghising. It is his power management skills that have made it possible.
People can help Ghising to accomplish his target in more than one way. For example, they can switch to energy-efficient LED lights from CFL and other traditional bulbs. Similarly, they can refrain from using iron, water pump and other energy-intensive appliances during peak hours.
Let’s hope the country’s journey from darkness to light will continue unabated and other areas outside the valley will be declared load-shedding free one after another. Best of luck to energy minister Sharma and NEA chief Ghising!