Remarks at the GEPCO Power Distribution Center Inaugural Ceremony Consul General Zachary Harkenrider

man speaking at podium

Mr. Zahoor Ahmed Chohan, CEO of the Gujranwala Electric Power Company,
Colleagues from the Power Distribution Program
Members of the Media and Distinguished Guests,

As Salam-u-Aleikum and thank you for the warm welcome!

It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the inauguration ceremony of the new Power Distribution Center!

This is my first visit to Gujranwala, and I hope to follow up with more visits to your city. Being residents of a major industrial and commercial city of the country, the people of Gujranwala know better than anyone else the importance of energy for the economy. It, therefore, gives me great pleasure to witness yet another initiative by my colleagues at the United States Agency for International Development to support Pakistan’s energy sector.

I have learned in my time in Lahore how hard Chief Minister Sharif and his government are working to find creative yet practical solutions to the challenges you face in your energy sector. We could not hope to have a more dynamic partner than the government of the Punjab; truly, their commitment to finding solutions to your energy challenges is commendable. We will continue to support their efforts.

Just last week in Lahore, USAID Mission Director for Pakistan, Gregory Gottlieb, and I helped to inaugurate an information technology lab funded by USAID at the Regional Training Center of the Lahore Electric Supply Company. That facility will not only improve the IT skills of the staff, but also improve the operations of LESCO and the delivery of power to consumers.

The Power Distribution Center that we are inaugurating today at the Gujranwala Electric Power Company, supported by USAID, is part of a state-of-the-art system that the U.S. Government has helped to create to upgrade the monitoring and management of power loads not only here at GEPCO but throughout the entire country. This system uses new technologies which allow distribution companies to track real-time power loads in various parts of the network. This enables distribution companies to take timely, and well informed, corrective actions to avoid overloads in the system. This, in turn, eliminates unscheduled load shedding.

Why is this new technology important? It is important because unscheduled load shedding destroys and degrades industrial equipment, causing billions of rupees of damage to the economy. It is important because such loadshedding disrupts essential services, such as medical procedures, where unexpected interruption of the power supply could end human lives. Finally, elimination of unscheduled load shedding is important because it prevents the people of this country from going about their normal, everyday lives.

The new technology installed at the power distribution centers across the country has already reduced unplanned events of load shedding by as much as 85 percent. In other words, this technology enables citizens and businesses to anticipate load shedding at certain times of the day and organize their lives and work accordingly. It is a small but very important step in bridging the gap between the power supply and demand.

Supporting the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to improve the performance of the energy sector is one of our top assistance priorities. Every day, we witness how power shortages disrupt the lives of people and hinder economic growth here in Punjab and throughout the country. To address this challenge, we work hand in hand with government officials and specialists in the power sector to improve the delivery of energy to consumers. The U.S. Government is helping improve energy policies, renovate and build power plants, and strengthen the operations of key elements in the power generation and distribution system so that power shortages can be reduced, and, over time, eliminated in this country.

The challenges are formidable, but I believe that with the commitment and dedication of all stakeholders, power shortages can be overcome. It will take time, but every little improvement, such as the one we are marking today, is a step towards a solution.

I want to applaud GEPCO management and all the specialists of this power distribution company for contributing their skills and technical know-how to reduce the shortages of power in the Gujranwala area through the improvements in company operations.

Ultimately, our work is about supporting the people of Pakistan in their efforts to achieve a brighter future. The United States bolsters Pakistan’s efforts to ensure that the fruits of development assistance benefit all its citizens.

I believe that through our joint efforts, we will be able to create a better, more reliable supply of power for a brighter, more prosperous future for Pakistan.

Thank you.