Source: Power supplies to stabilise — perm sec | The Herald August 5, 2019
THE electricity supply situation is expected to considerably improve from today as Government has started to make weekly payments to service its legacy debt with regional power utilities.
Government interventions are set to forestall dim prospects in the energy sector with the decommissioning of Lake Kariba’s hydro power plant soon.
Secretary for Finance and Economic Development Mr George Guvamatanga said this yesterday during a post-Budget breakfast meeting in Harare.
He said the arrangements put in place on electricity should guarantee increased power supply beginning today or tomorrow.
“In terms of the debt, I think the first instalment was made last week (and) we are going to be making weekly instalments for the legacy debts and we have also agreed that we pay on current basis for the supply of new imports,” said Mr Guvamatanga.
Government has also made arrangements with the private sector to “ring-fence adequate resources” to pay for at least 400MW of electricity per month.
“We certainly expect the power situation, having concluded with one of the suppliers, to improve starting tomorrow (today) or from Wednesday.
“We are going to be engaging other suppliers as well to try and see if we can put into place a similar structure,” said Mr Guvamatanga.
However, he said there was need to find resources that will be ring-fenced to pay for power imports.
Rolling power outages have seen most parts of the country going without electricity for over 12 hours.
Zimbabwe owes South Africa’s Eskom and Mozambique’s Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) about US$74 million, resulting in the two power utilities reducing exports supplies.
Electricity generation at Kariba is now down to 180MW, which is not enough to power Harare alone.
Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) business development manager Engineer Bernard Chizengeya yesterday expressed fears that Lake Kariba could be decommissioned next month as water levels are fast dwindling.
Eng Chizengeya said the country may be plunged into darkness by September or beginning of October unless solutions such as sustained imports to complement local generation are implemented.
Speaking at a Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) media workshop in Harare yesterday, Mr Chizengeya said Kariba Dam level is at 478m and power production will cease when it gets to 475m, which is likely to occur in September or October.
“At Kariba Dam, there is a level that cannot be used for power generation. The minimum is 475m level and we are at 478m, which means we are left with only three metres, so by September we may not be able to generate electricity from Kariba,” he said.
Industry has bemoaned power shortages, which have significantly cut down on production and increased cost since alternative energy sources such as generators are unsustainable.
As at yesterday, the national power generation capacity was 746MW against a national demand of 1 700 MW.
Apart from the low water levels, ZPC has bemoaned old machinery and lack of foreign currency for importation of turbines and generators to increase output.
ZESA Holdings is also owed $1,2 billion by power consumers.
Eng Chizengeya pleaded with consumers to pay their bills.
“Debts have crippled ZESA, we should have a culture of paying for what we use,” he said.