Pakistan urges SAARC countries to promote cross-border electricity trade

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 24 (APP):Pakistan on Tuesday underlined the need for increased cooperation among member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to promote trade of cross-border electricity aimed at achieving sustainable economic growth and ending power load shedding in the region.

“Increasing cross-border trade of electricity can play a major role in overcoming challenges to sustain rapid economic growth and making the region free of load shedding. It will help bring down energy prices, mitigate power shocks, relieve shortages, facilitate decarobanisation and provide incentives for market extension and integration,” National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) Chairman Tariq Saddozoi said while addressing the inaugural session of 2nd meeting of SAARC Council of Experts of Energy Regulators (Electricity) here.

He said there was a need to harmonize laws, rules and regulations to achieve the objective of cross-border trade of electricity, adding “the required laws should be framed in line with the existing laws and requirements of system demand, physical infrastructure development, system operation with reliability and stability, economic and commercial aspects including settlements and reconciliation of obligations.”

He said by signing the SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity) on November 27, 2014, Pakistan had recognized the importance of the electricity in promoting economic growth and improving the quality of life in the region.

“The cross-border trade of electricity also complements the electricity demands and resource endowments among the neighboring SAARC countries,” the chairman said.

Saddozoi said a number of wholesale power markets were establishing in developing regions.

However, he said, certain steps were needed to implement such cross-border trade by ensuring physical interconnection at borders and availability of adequate transmission capacity in the relevant facilities.

The chairman said most of the SAARC countries were struggling to construct their core infrastructure and undertaking additional development of facilities, seeking financial and technical support of leading multilateral agencies like Asian Development Bank, World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency for efficient execution of power projects.

“I see the role of multilateral agencies in carrying out feasibility studies, providing financial support and review of relevant laws of the member countries. As for Pakistan is concerned, NEPRA has already finalized its regulation on import of electric power.”

Saddozoi hoped that bilateral trade of electricity would lead to development of regional power pools where real-time electricity trade would be possible, for which the role of multilateral agencies would be critical in facilitating infrastructural development and design of power pools.

The two-day meeting of SAARC Council of Experts of Energy Regulators (Electricity) was being attended b participants from members countries inlcuidng Abdul Khayer and Firoz Zaman from Bangladesh, Nima Tshering and Sangay Phuntsho from Bhutan, Shazeena Ismail from Maldives, Nutan Prkash Sharman and Sumanta Kumar Sah from Nepal, Nilantha Sapumanage and Gamini Sarathehandra from Srilanka and Habibulrahman Rahmat and M Waris Mustamadi from Afghanistan.

The council elected senior advisor of NEPRA Hussnain Zigham as its chairperson.

First meeting of the SAARC Council was held in Thimpu, Bhutan in December 2016 and it primarily focused on the adoption of the work plan and terms of reference of the council.