Islamabad: The US Friday announced it has released USD 280 million to support Pakistan's energy sector at a time when the country is grappling with crippling power outages that have sparked violent protests in several cities.
"The US Congress has released 280 million dollars in new US assistance to support Pakistan's energy sector. The funds will support improvements to Mangla Dam and infrastructure support and due diligence work on the Kurram Tangi Dam project," said a statement from the US Embassy.
The aid is part of the US' "long-term and enduring support for Pakistan's energy sector and for the people of Pakistan," the statement said.
Relieving Pakistan's energy crisis is a "top priority" for the US civilian assistance programme, it said.
The US approach consists of high-impact projects aimed at increasing Pakistan's energy resources and helping power sector institutions meet the country's energy needs more effectively.
The US is funding large-scale infrastructure efforts that are expected to add 900 MW to the Pakistani power grid by 2013. This will be enough energy to power two million households and businesses.
Several cities in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces have witnessed violent protests over the past few days following power outages of up to 18 hours.
Officials have acknowledged that the situation has been compounded by power thefts and an inefficient distribution system.
Ongoing projects supported by the US include the Gomal Zam Dam, which will generate 17.4 MW of hydroelectric power and irrigate almost 200,000 acres, the Satpara Dam, which will generate 17.7 MW, the Muzzafargarh power station, which will increase generation capacity by 475 MW, the Jamshoro power station project which will enable the station to restore at least 150 MW of power generation capacity, and the Tarbela Dam modernisation project that will add 128 MW in power generation capacity.
The US support ranges from improving the governance of the power sector to strengthening the performance of power distribution companies.