The government has decided to introduce an area-based power cut programme for one hour between 5pm and 11pm daily during the next one week. After a week of observation, the amount of load shedding may be increased or decreased.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid informed this to the media in a briefing at the Secretariat on Monday afternoon.
Nasrul Hamid said that all the diesel-run power plants currently in operation across the country will stop production until further notice.
“Shutting down diesel-run power plants and keeping petrol pumps closed for a day every week will reduce fuel import by 20 percent, which will save a huge amount of foreign exchange,” he said.
The state minister said that shops and shopping malls will have to close down by 8pm. The Energy Division has asked to be strict in this regard. If any consumers violate the decision, the electricity connection will be cut.
Regarding the use of AC in the religious establishments, he said, “Not only mosques, many places of worship (mosques, temples and churches) have installed a lot of airconditioners. They should only use AC during prayer time. My suggestion is that they turn off the ACs on time after the prayers are over.”
Highlighting the energy crisis in the world, the state minister said, “Due to the global energy crisis, various countries of the world have adopted various cost-effective policies. Some countries have increased prices. Some have adopted a cost-effective policy.”
Earlier in the day, the government decided to halt production of all the diesel-run power plants -- which provide some 2.79 percent of the country's electricity -- currently in operation across the country until further notice.
Addressing the media, Energy Advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, said, “The moves come aiming to reduce the government's expenditure in power generation. Plants using diesel to produce electricity will suspend operations from 18 July. This will create a shortage of 1,000-1,500MW of electricity.”
According to Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), currently about 51.49 percent of the country's electricity comes from gas, 2.79 percent from diesel-run power plant while 18.90% comes from furnace oil, 14.98% from coal, 0.56% from hydro sources, 0.37% from renewables, and 10% is imported.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury also said, “The most significant aspect of our discussion centred on reducing power generation in order to bring down costs to a sustainable level. We have decided to suspend power generation using diesel for the time being. It will save a lot of money.”
Echoing the same, State Minister for the Ministry of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, said, “Customers will be notified in advance about the load shedding schedule. We are giving the highest priority to the industrial sector.”
"These measures, forced by the Russia-Ukraine War, are not long-term. We have to be cost-effective. Industries and businesses are priorities when it comes to electricity supply," he added.
The government has also decided to cut regular office timings for government and private sectors, but the schedule is not finalized yet.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said the government is planning to reduce office hours and introduce virtual office to save electricity.
The Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) on Monday released the area-wise load shedding schedule for the capital Dhaka, which could be found on its website. Other distribution companies will also release similar load shedding schedules.
Bangladesh has been grappling with a power crunch as the war in Ukraine continues to drive up the cost of fuel in the international market.
The state minister had previously suggested hiking fuel prices in the country to keep in step with the global market.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also stressed the need for austerity in electricity consumption as rising costs forced a rollback in power production.
Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said there was a maximum of 1,400MW load shedding at 9pm on Monday in different parts of the country.
Officials at Petrobangla said that the only remedy is meeting demand when fuel price falls in the global market.