Despite the Power Division's reassurance that there would be no load-shedding of electricity this summer, around half the country is experiencing acute power shortages, causing immense suffering to people.
The situation is especially worse in southwestern districts, where load-shedding lasts for six hours every day on average.
Increased demand for power due to new electricity connections, damaged electricity towers due to storms, maintenance work of 10 power plants and gas crisis are the major reasons behind the massive load-shedding, a Power Division official told the Dhaka Tribune.
“Maintenance work in power plants has cut down generation of 1,900MW, while gas crisis has cut down a further 776MW,” he said, requesting anonymity.
Sources said a storm damaged a major transmission line on May 2, disrupting power transmission from the eastern region to the southwestern region of the country. The repair work of the line will take several months.
For similar reasons, power supply has been disrupted in the northern region as well.
This situation is causing severe disruption in the day-to-day life of people in the southwestern region.
“We suffering severely due to load-shedding. Some days, we do not get electricity for 10 hours,” said Sheikh Aman Ullah, resident in Khulna. “This is hampering children's studies, work at offices. This has become a huge problem for us.”
At a meeting in the Power Division on Monday, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said the situation would improve within the next four days.
But with Ramadan only a few days away, people are now worried that power outages are going to continue during the month of fasting, even though the Power Division announced on April 27 that there would be no load-shedding during sehri, iftar and Taraweeh prayers.
The power authority also said if any power distribution company needed load-shedding, it would have to schedule it beforehand and inform the authorities concerned.
At the meeting, Nasrul Hamid said power generation, transmission and distribution should be coordinated and load-shedding should be fixed proportionately with the load management.
“Supply companies should generate power in accordance with the demand. Consumers should be informed of the timing of load-shedding beforehand.”
He also ordered everyone in the power sector to work in coordination during Ramadan and ordered the ministry to monitor the activities.
Sources said the daily demand for electricity is currently 12,000MW, but the amount of power generated is a little over 8,000MW. On Sunday, 8,244MW of electricity was generated.
There are a few reasons behind the gap in power generation, the sources said.
Auxiliary use of electricity in power stations and transmission loss costs around 613MW of power., so the government can supply 7,631MW to the distribution sub-stations. Added to that is the loss that occurs when the power is supplied to the consumers.
With the power loss on different stages of transmission, consumers actually get 7,500MW.
The Bangladesh Power Development Board currently has the generation capacity of 12,578MW, derated from its installed capacity of 13,179MW.
At the meeting, Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) Chairman Maj Gen Moin Uddin said rural areas are suffering from severe crisis. “The BREB is getting 3,500MW when the demand is for 5,300MW,” he added.
Md Shafique Uddin, managing director of West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd, the company that supplies electricity to 21 districts in Khulna and Barisal Division, said they were getting 550MW of power when the demand is for 650MW.
Md Zakiul Islam, managing director of North-West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd, said they supplied power to Rajshahi and Rangpur districts. “We have a demand of 800MW of power but are getting only 500MW.”
Bangladesh Power Development Board Chairman Khaled Mahmood said the power plants that were currently going through maintenance work would be functional again in a few days. “Then, power generation will reach 10,000 MW.”