ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said the operationalization of the country’s first-ever transmission line of 660 KV High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) would reduce line losses from 17 to four percent, resulting in the availability of cheap electricity for consumers. Addressing the inauguration of 886-kilometre-long Matiari-Lahore HVDC with a capacity of 4,400-megawatt power generation under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the prime minister said the project would prove as a “leading energy transmission artery from the country’s north to south”. Imran Khan said the significant reduction of line losses would save billions and also lessen the burden on the common man paying the expensive electricity bills. He regretted that the previous government did not carry out on-ground work on the Matiari-Lahore project signed with China in 2013, which made the public immensely suffer the power load-shedding. The prime minister expressed satisfaction that his government after the assumption of power in 2018 carried out the construction work of the state-of-the-art Matiari-Lahore project at full pace and completed it despite the pandemic. Besides energy, he said, other CPEC projects under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative relating to industrialization and innovation in agriculture would be launched in the next phase. He hoped that the completion of CPEC projects would lead to wealth creation and help the government pay off heavy debt. Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar said the project was made operational after testing in three phases including the peak seasons and would help in removing the transmission bottleneck. He said the CPEC power projects were the important pillars of Pakistan’s economic system and were acting as smart and efficient sources of green energy generation. Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong termed the operationalization of the 660 KV HVDC project a milestone and said Pakistan’s power grid system had now entered a new era of development and up-gradation. He said cheap electricity was key to the socio-economic development of Pakistan and vowed that China would continue to extend its support in this regard. He mentioned that the 886 km transmission line would go along 510 km of motorway and create around 70,000 jobs in the country. President State Grid Corporation of China Xin Baoan in his video-link address to the ceremony said the 70th anniversary of the Pak-China friendship was marked by cooperation at diverse levels for the benefit of their people. He said his corporation would work closely with its local counterparts in Pakistan on projects of energy cooperation. The HVDC transmission line project will evacuate power from the upcoming coal-based thermal power plants located at Port Qasim, Hub, and Thar. The National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) carried out a study through an international consultant which proposed HVDC technology for the transfer of bulk power for its cost-effectiveness and lower line losses. Moreover, the requirement of ‘right of way’ for HVDC is less than High-Voltage Alternate Current (HVAC) lines. The HVDC line Matiari in Sindh to Lahore in Punjab will have 1973 towers and two converter stations with AC substations, one each at Matiari and Lahore. It will have two grounding stations at 50-80 km from Matiari and Lahore converter stations and three repeater stations along the route of line to boost telecommunication signals, each at Salehpat, Rahim Yar Khan, Hasilpur. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has approved the total cost of the project of $1,658 million (including taxes, insurance, etc.) and has issued a tariff determination of Rs.0.74 per kWh at the rate of $ 1 (equal to Rs 104.4). The monthly HVDC Line capacity charges for 4,000 MW are Rs 4.2 billion approximately (after indexation in tariff). The project is being executed on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis for a 25 years term. The operation and maintenance of the converter stations will be carried out by Pak MLTC and that of the Transmission Line by NTDC. The self-supported towers have been installed for bi-pole HVDC line with Quad Bundle Conductor and size of 4×1250 mm2. The NEPRA has fixed the line availability factor of 98.5 percent and any non-availability beyond 1.5 percent allowed unavailability shall be penalized. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) of the Sindh government and Punjab government have issued No-Objection certificates for EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment). The testing and commissioning of the project continued for more than one year and was completed on August 18, 2021, after its trial run for 168 hours along with capability demonstration tests.