Home appliance purchases push Pakistan power crisis


Islamabad : A surge in sales of electrical appliances like air conditioners has forced Pakistani authorities to introduce drastic power-saving measures across the country, media reported Sunday.

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As of Monday, power cuts lasting up to two hours a day will be introduced across the country, shops will be required to close at 8 pm and industrial units will have staggered weekly holidays, the chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, Tariq Hamid, told reporters in the city of Lahore Saturday.

The official said consumption rose sharply over the past year due to the purchase of 2.6 million air-conditioners, 1.2 million televisions, 5 million fans, 750,000 washing machines, as well as the electrification of 15,000 villages, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Billboard illuminations will be switched off at 8 pm, but hotels, restaurants, bakeries and pharmacies will be exempt from the package of measures.

Pakistan's power shortage is expected to worsen in the coming two years due to an almost 50 percent increase in demand and slow improvement to the supply.

By 2010, the shortfall is predicted to exceed 5,000 MW, more than the current combined output of Pakistan's two largest hydroelectric power stations.

To help tackle the problem the government will build five more major dams by 2016 at a reported cost of $20 to $25 billion. Improved gas and coal supplies will also offset much of the demand.