Karachiites seeking solar solutions to electricity crisisOctober 3, 2015
Karachi: Fed up with ever-increasing electricity tariff, fast meters, bogus billing and exploiting tactics of power suppliers, many citizens of Karachi are mulling over to get their electricity connections disconnected and turn their homes and workplaces to solar electricity, but the higher cost of installing solar systems is the main hurdle. However, if the government and banks offer some feasible schemes of provision of small solar systems on easy installments, hundreds of thousands of homes, shops and workplaces would go solar within weeks.
Electricity consumers of Karachi feel them cruelly exploited by the power suppliers. They frequently complain of fast meters, bogus billing, and questionable methods of cost calculating and accounting for power tariff and billing practices. However, the government, Nepra and power supplying entities are not ready to solve their genuine problems. Electricity consumers also brave ‘collective punishment’ as stolen units and line losses are also adjusted from their bills. Even they have to pay bill collection charges to the banks themselves. Low and middle income families are finding it very difficult to pay their rising electricity bills.
In this grim scenario, solar electricity panels and batteries offer a rosy picture but their drawback is higher initial investment. There is a huge market for solar electricity systems in Karachi, provided the government or banks introduce workable schemes to provide these systems to consumers on hire-purchase or easy installment basis. The banks and solar companies could also have a windfall if they join hands to offer affordable solar electricity solutions to consumers, as it would be win-win situation for all.
In Punjab the government is installing solar electricity system in schools and dispensaries of small villages and remote areas. This experiment could also be replicated in Sindh province, especially Karachi. Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) has already been working to turn their pumping stations solar to save electricity costs and frequent load shedding. The education, health, local government, home and other departments of Sindh can also install small solar systems in schools, hospitals, police stations and offices. KMC can also install solar streetlights in the city to save billions of rupees that could be used on other development schemes.
However, the main market for solar and other alternate electricity systems is domestic consumers. These consumers need financing modes to purchase these systems and if the government and commercial banks show seriousness to offer affordable solar electricity solutions for homes, shops and small workplaces, millions of Karachiites could get rid of annoying bogus billing, speedy meters and other exploiting tools of profit-hungry power suppliers.