Power theft, meter tampering, outages cost PNG provider K25m a month

PNG Power linesmen
PNG Power linesmen at work ... the state-owned enterprise faces heavy revenue losses and debts. Image: Mark Talia/Post-Courier

PNG Post-Courier

PNG Power Limited — faced with a business on the brink of total collapse due to ageing infrastructure — is losing K25 million (NZ$10 million) a month in revenue, and is on top of a staggering K650 million (NZ$265 million) debt owed to service providers.

The monthly loss in revenue is through power theft, tampering with meters and frequent outages that have forced many companies — large and small– to run their own electricity generation units, adding K20 million (NZ$8.2 million) to the losses incurred by PNG Power Limited.

Information provided to the PNG Post-Courier has painted a grim picture about the state-owned entity, PNG’s main electricity provider.

According to people close to PNG Power, the SOE requires more than K1 billion to bail itself out of the current mess and deliver reliable power to the country.

However, how it raises this money is a contentious issue yet to be addressed by government and the PNG Power management.

Melisha Yafoi reports that PNG Power currently owes service providers and Independent Power Producers debts totalling K650 million.

The debts are now believed to be at an unsustainable level unless monthly losses of around K25 million, grid reliability and revenue collection are all addressed immediately.

In addition, concessional loans have been given to PNG Power by the ADB, World Bank and JICA worth more than K400 million, tipping the debt to more than K1 billion.

A well-placed industry source told the Post-Courier on Monday that the state entity had serious cashflow issues that need to be solved immediately.

Public demand explanation
Student journalists Yesmah Nouairi and Abbra Ntum report that the public have demanded an explanation from PNG Power about why there are frequent blackouts in the nation’s capital and other regions.

Customers, responding to PPL’s notices on Facebook advising of power outages last week and recently, have also expressed frustration about the frequent blackouts.

“We have been experiencing low power voltage and power outage since last week Tuesday,” said a customer from Boera village in Central Province.

They also expressed their frustrations about the power company not sticking to its advertised outage schedules.

PPL advised its consumers on its Facebook page that it would carry out power interruptions to allow workmen to do urgent maintenance work.

They said the areas that would be affected were Waigani, Gerehu stages five, six and parts of stage two.

However, residents from Morata Two, Two Mile, Boera and Gerehu Stage One and Stage Three have also been experiencing constant power outages.

“Power has been coming on and going off since 11pm last night, and it just went off now, is this part of the so called maintainance work that the company is doing?” said a resident from Gerehu Stage Four.

Line clearance damage
Others complained about the line clearance and the damages it may cause to electrical appliances in their houses that can cause fire or injury.

“Gerehu Stage One, Udia Street power pole 9657 seriously needs line clearance,” commented a frustrated consumer of PNG Power Facebook page.

“The powerline from the pole to the house is fluctuating and there is not enough power current in the house and this has caused damage to so much of the electrical appliances.”

Many people said it was expensive to replace or buy new electrical appliances every time there was a power outage in the city as most households use electric stoves and pans for cooking.

PNG Post-Courier articles are republished with permission.

PNG Power Limited's head office
PNG Power Limited’s head office … massive debts reported. Image: PNG Report
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