LOAD shedding will increase following a reduction in daily electricity production capacity at Kariba North Bank Power station from 500 megawatts (MW) to 305 MW due to reduced water allocation by Zambezi River Authority (ZRA).
Meanwhile, Zesco senior manager-marketing and public relations Bessie Banda says customers should use electricity responsibly when power is restored to avoid having the power station shut down prematurely due to lack of water for power generation.
ZRA allocates water for power generation to Zesco and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) annually, but subject to quarterly reviews based on water levels at Kariba Dam.
Ms Banda told a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday that in the first quarter of 2015, ZRA revised water allocation to Zesco and ZESA from 45 billion cubic metres to 40.2 billion cubic metres citing low water inflows into Kariba Dam during the 2014/15 rainy season.
“This reduction in water allocation translates to reduction in average electricity production capacity on the Zambian side to 500MW from an average of around 800MW at the previous allocation,” she said.
Ms Banda said as at June 1, 2015, Zesco had 4,996 Giga Watt Hours [GWh] available for generation up to December 2015.
“But the current status is that we only have 1,158GWh available for generation from August to December 2015. This means that on average we should now only be generating up to 305MW from Kariba North Bank,” she said.
Ms Banda explained that power rationing that Zesco is implementing is meant to conserve water resources so that generation of electricity can continue through to the next rainy season.
“Regrettably, it has been noted that when power is restored to our customers after load shedding, the demand for power is very high as customers are trying to maximise the usage of electricity when it is available.
“This pattern of consumption is not helping the situation as the energy that Zesco needs to save is not being saved hence defeating the purpose of power rationing exercise,” Ms Banda said.
She warned that this consumption pattern will result in dire consequences if left unchecked.
“Water levels may fall much faster to the low threshold level and thus result in the premature shutting down of the Kariba North Bank station,” she said.
Meanwhile, SYLVESTER CHISHIMBA reports that Zesco has started engaging ordinary citizens to view the current status of low water levels at the Kariba Dam and Kafue Gorge.
Zesco spokesperson Henry Kapata in an interview shortly after a familiarisation tour of Kariba Dam amd Kafue Gorge said that this is in an effort to sensitise people and to give them first-hand information on the operations of the power utility.
Mr Kapata said the invitation is all-inclusive irrespective of people’s political affiliations.
Zesco Kariba North Bank acting station manager Mahaku Maloza said the current load-shedding is the only option to effectively supply power within the generation levels to reach the next rainy season.
“The water level is much lower than expected this time of the year. The rainfall was not as expected and hence we are controlling the way we are generating power by reducing the supply levels so that all customers are catered for,” he said.
Margaret Nyirenda, a resident of Kaunda Square, commended the power utility for its efforts to supply electricity to the nation under the current challenges.
“If I was not part of this tour, I would not have known what is really happening on the ground. Please let us not condemn or criticise the government but appreciate the efforts it is making for the benefit of the people,” she said.