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Hitler analogy clownish at best

A MAJOR power crisis has gripped the country with reports that five of the six generating units at Hwange Power Station are down.

The operational unit is generating a mere 90MW. Kariba Power Station is generating 745MW and an additional 200MW are imported from neighbouring countries in the Southern African Power Pool.

Internal generation and the imports were by Wednesday standing at 1 035MW against the national daily demand of 2 200 megawatts.

The electricity crisis has worsened the current power rationing with Zesa switching off customers randomly throughout the country, in some cases for periods between seven and 12 hours daily.

The situation is unlikely to improve in the near future.

Fullard Gwasira, Zesa spokesperson, confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that the power utility had increased power rationing due to the breakdown at Hwange Power Station.

“Load-shedding has increased due to depressed electricity generation at Hwange Power Station where one unit is producing 90MW out of a possible generation of 480MW,” Gwasira said.  “Kariba is generating 745MW to augment electricity imports of 200MW from neighbouring countries in the Southern African Power Pool.”

He added: “There is a mismatch between the national demand of 2 200MW on one hand and the available electricity of 1 035MW on the other. Coupled with the fact that three thermal power stations in Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati are not generating electricity due to a combination of factors, which include fuel supply and plant challenges, electricity availability is depressed at the moment.”

Gwasira said it was necessary to have increased load-shedding to ensure that the available and scarce power is adequately shared by all consumers.

The country, despite the power shortages, is exporting 150MW to Namibia under a US$40 million deal where Namibian utility NamPower  provided capital for the refurbishment of power units at Hwange Thermal Power Station in exchange for electricity.

Gwasira however defended the deal saying Zimbabwe would benefit from the pact in the long run.

“This loan (from the Namibians) is a win-win and can actually be viewed as a prepayment for power to be delivered at a later date after refurbishment,” he said.

Turning to plans that Zesa has of rectifying the problems at Hwange Power Station, Gwasira said a lot of money was required to refurbish the units, but the solution was to replace antiquated equipment.

Apart from refurbishing and replacing antiquated equipment, the power utility also needed to service auxiliary equipment not covered under the agreement with the Namibians.

“A lot of money is required, not only to refurbish the generators, but also the auxiliary equipment associated with the generators,” Gwasira explained.  “Under the Namibian deal, only the generators were refurbished, and not the auxiliary equipment and this has affected the optimal use of the plant.”

The government has said it would seek partners to run the three thermal power stations at Munyati, Bulawayo and in Harare.

The three thermal power stations can generate 500 megawatts if they are fully operational.

Meanwhile, the Competition and Tariff Commission is probing Zesa over allegations of abusing its monopoly to charge excessive tariffs.

According to the commission, the investigation would centre on “alleged abuse of monopoly by Zesa through excessive tariffs, charging electricity not consumed through estimates in billing and arbitrary cutting of electricity supplies for domestic and industrial use”.

The commission, through its chairman Dumisani Sibanda, has invited written submissions to do with “any restrictive and unfair business practices within Zesa on the local market”.

The submissions are to be lodged with the commission by next Friday.

Loughty Dube / Nqobile Bhebhe

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