Source: Farmers get pre-paid meters | The Financial Gazette December 7, 2017
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) will next year introduce a facility for customers to buy their own meters from authorised dealers.
The electricity meters are expected to be on the market in the first quarter of 2018.
Responding to questions raised by farmers during a meeting with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, ZETDC said the introduction of smart metering in 2018 should enable farmers to manage their load in a more efficient way because the meters can show real time consumption, enable time of use metering and control customer loads. The initiative comes after farmers highlighted that they previously used to buy their own meters that met ZETDC specifications.
Given that ZETDC are failing to meet demand of meter installation, farmers requested to buy own meters which meet ZETDC specifications.
“Many farmers are sharing one meter and bill sharing is proving to be a great challenge, leading to power disconnections,” the Zimbabwe Federation of Farmers Unions said.
The farmers proposed that given the perennial meter shortage, arrangements be made for meters, to be available for sale at some convenient points to members of the public. During the meeting, the farmers’ legacy debt of $180 million since 2013 was also discussed. The debt is negatively affecting operations due to power outages.
“The farmers’ legacy debt has to be settled and issues of power outages will be dealt with on an individual farmer basis. Debt settlement is on an individual basis based on agreed payment plans,” ZETDC said, while assuring farmers that the current power import contracts are secure enough to guarantee reliable supply.
“The commissioning of the Kariba Extension Projects will also boost the reliability confidence levels. ZETDC’s position on load shedding is an issue of the past and the country has gone through two winter seasons without load shedding and that is the status quo and the modus operandus as we continue into the future. This position shall be cemented as well with the commissioning of Kariba unit 7 generator boosting power by 150 megawatts (MW) by year end, and another 150MW by the end of 1st quarter 2018,” ZETDC said.
Farmers also indicated that given past experience, going forward, farmers would require legally binding assurance of reliable power supply.
Besides electricity faults, farmers have not experienced load shedding for the past 18 months. Power supply in Zimbabwe is expected to be steady given that South Africa has excess power and the Kariba Extension Project is now reportedly at 80 percent completion.
ZETDC is owed over $1 billion in unpaid bills and is struggling to replace obsolete equipment.