Senior Business Reporter
NEGOTIATIONS on the ownership wrangle of the Bulawayo Power Station between Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and Bulawayo City Council (BCC) have been elevated to the ministerial level in a bid to resolve the impasse.
The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works has been engaged to help break the impasse, ZPC said in a power generation first-quarter update.
“Plans to repower Bulawayo Power Station are on course. ZPC and BCC have initiated negotiations on ownership issues and the matter has been escalated to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works for assistance,” reads part of the statement.
The plant is one of the oldest in the country having been commissioned between 1947 and 1957 as an undertaking by the Municipality of Bulawayo with an initial 120MW installed capacity.
In 2018, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority announced in a public notice that it had received an application from ZPC for an amendment of the electricity generation licence to be extended by 20 years from 2024.
The licence was also to enable the entity to produce 120 megawatts of power with 90 megawatts to be fed into the national grid.
However, residents, through the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BUPRA) and council objected to the application saying they were the owners of the power station.
At the time, BUPRA said it was prepared to take legal action against the issuance of the licence to ZPC.
Despite being connected to the national grid through 11kV and 33kV systems, the power station’s contribution to the national grid is now minimal, which has necessitated the need for rehabilitation so as to give it a new lease of life.
ZPC operates four coal-fired power stations, Hwange, Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare and the hydro-powered Kariba Power Station.
According to the Tuesday’s power generation update, there was no production at Bulawayo station. Kariba produces 758MW, Hwange (407MW), Munyati (27MW) and Harare 12MW.
Over the years, due to ageing plant equipment, the Bulawayo Power Station has lost its generation capacity, which has seen its output dropping to around 30MW per day out of the revised 90MW capacity, and zero production on some days due to operational constraints.
In 2015, the Government secured the initial funding pledge of US$87 million from the India Exim Bank to implement the repowering project with an additional US$23 million package later secured to make the total funding package of US$110 million.
However, reaching financial closure and finalisation of tender processes and contract signing have dragged over the past years resulting in delays in implementing the project.