Print Edition - 2018-02-19  |  SILVER LININGS

A spark in the dark

- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Feb 19, 2018-

Nepalis had lost hope that their country, often and loudly flaunted as having one of the world’s richest hydro resources, would one day be able to liberate itself from the shackles of hours-long power outages. 

Then Kulman Ghising entered the scene as the new managing director of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility. Immediately after his appointment in mid-September in 2016, Ghising started his crusade against load-shedding. 

The general public, however, were unaware of Ghising’s ambitious plan until October 30 of 2016, the day ofLaxmi Puja, the Festival of Lights. On that day, electricity consumption had reached its annual peak of over 315 MW in the Kathmandu Valley. Yet the Capital did not witness any power outages. Such was the Ghising effect. 

“My specialisation in integrated resource planning with demand-side management while pursuing a Master’s degree in engineering helped me in this initiative,” says Ghising.  Buoyed by the achievement of providing uninterrupted power supply to the Valley, Ghising even claimed that the Capital would never face load shedding again. 

Many made fun of Ghising at that time for making, what they labelled, a populist statement. But the Valley has not faced power cuts—save some exceptions—since he made the declaration, and eventually, power cuts were also eliminated from rest of the country. This has made Ghising a national hero and a poster boy for virtuous civil service. 

This feat was something unexpected for someone born in a lower-middle income family in a remote village of Ramechhap district. After completing his studies, Ghising joined NEA as a seventh grade engineer at the Rural Electrification and Small Hydropower Department, where he worked for a decade as a site engineer and later as a project chief for different rural electrification projects. 

He then joined the western division office of the NEA in Butwal as the division chief, where he was responsible for planning, controlling and managing electrification and reinforcement works in 10 western and mid-western districts of the country. 

After achieving a fair amount of success at the division office, Ghising got the opportunity to work at the power trading department of the NEA as a manager. During his tenure at the power trading department, he was responsible for holding power purchase agreement (PPA) negotiations, monitoring progress, testing and commissioning of hydroelectric plants, and dealing with independent power producers on technical and contractual matters.

With Ghising’s unrelenting crusade, the constantly updated load shedding timetables have come  down from walls on kitchens and stores, and just for that, Kulman Ghising deserves all the plaudits being showered his way.  

— By Bibek Subedi 

Published: 19-02-2018 12:31

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