Nduduzo Tshuma Senior Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has turned down an application for a 5 percent tariff hike by a subsidiary of power utility, Zesa.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) sought a review of tarrifs from 9.86 cents to 10.36 cents per kilowatt hour (KwH), corresponding to a revenue requirement of about $891 million for the supply of 8,594 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity.
GWh is a unit of energy representing one billion watt hours and is equivalent to one million kilowatt hour.
Following the application for the hike, Zera facilitated tariff consultations with the government, consumer groups as well as big customers in mining, agriculture, and the productive sectors.
In a statement yesterday, Zera board chairperson Dr Ester Khosa said: “After duly considering the tariff application, the macro economic conditions prevailing in the country, written and oral submissions from various consumer groups and stakeholders as well as facts and evidence provided by ZETDC, the Zera board made the following determination: That the average tariff be maintained at the previous level effective 1st September 2014. This effectively means there is no tariff increase for this year.”
Dr Khosa said in coming up with the determination, the Zera board was of the view that the current tariff is adequate to meet ZEDTC’s operations.
“The Zera board also expects ZEDTC to improve its debt collection and operational efficiencies as well as reduce technical or non-technical losses,” she added.
Dr Khosa said her organisation was urging electricity consumers to pay their electricity bills timeously and embrace energy efficiency programmes.
“Consumers are also urged to desist from stealing and vandalising electricity infrastructure as that increases the cost of service,” she said.
As of last Friday, Zesa was generating 1,447 MW from its five generation plants at Hwange, Kariba, Bulawayo, Harare and Munyati while the county needs more than 2,000 MW.
This has forced the power utility to introduce load shedding while other power saving initiatives such as promoting use of energy-saver bulbs are being promoted.
Recently, Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said research showed that most families in Zimbabwe used at most 300 kWh monthly thus the need to ensure people do not waste electricity.
ZEDTC announced that it would inflict heavy financial penalties on consumers who waste electricity by introducing stepped prepayment tariffs which take into account monthly power consumption.
Under the stepped domestic prepayment tariff, consumers will pay up to 15 cents a kilo watt hour (kWh) if they exceed a certain limit. At present, pre-paid electricity costs one cent per kWh irrespective of consumption.
The move is meant to reduce excessive electricity consumption in a country where there is a deficit in power generation and could see people who waste electricity paying up to 36 percent more than those who use power sparingly.