Millions of people across the country were without power when a major blackout started at 7:34 in the morning local time. Authorities said that the power was back on in areas of Islamabad, as well as the nearby city of Rawalpindi, after eight hours had gone by, according to The New York Times.
The blackout started in Sindh Province because of a power rush in voltage, according to local authorities. The energy minister, Khurram Dastgir Khan, said at a press conference that the voltage issue prompted a domino effect of electricity plants not working around Pakistan.
Dastgir had also reportedly said that the situation was “not a major crisis,” but lots of residences and businesses did not have power over 12 hours after the outage started.
He told Geo TV that some of the power was shut off during the night because of the winter season, per the BBC.
“In winter, the demand for electricity reduces nationwide, hence, as an economic measure, we temporarily close down our power generation systems at night,” he said.
However, when the systems were turned on again, “frequency variation and voltage fluctuation” were seen in the southern part of the country “somewhere between Dadu and Jamshoro” and then “power generating units shut down one by one,” he said.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also established a high level group to look into the massive blackout.
Even though areas started to see electricity come back on, per Dastgir, experts have said the electric issues come from the fact that the electric grid is older. The government, however, reportedly claims that it doesn’t have the money to improve it.
In 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that 60% of the country’s electricity would be made from renewable energy by 2030.
The electrical grid in the country has been a source of problems over the past several years. According to a 2018 blog post for the World Bank regarding the report, “In the Dark,” almost 50 million people in Pakistan weren’t able to utilize the electric grid. Pakistan also came in 115th place in a 2018 report on 137 economies’ power reliability.
In 2021, Reuters reported on a new issue in the country, in that it could make much more electricity than it had been able to in the past, mainly due to an increase in coal plants that China has paid for.
“We have been adding capacity, but we have been doing so without improving transmission infrastructure,” Fahad Rauf, leader of research at Karachi brokerage Ismail Iqbal Industries, said more recently, per Reuters.