Felex Share, Harare Bureau
Zesa owes Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB) $10 million, raising fears among stakeholders that the figure could balloon to unprecedented levels witnessed four years ago if it is not cleared on time.
In 2012, the power utility struggled to clear the $76 million it owed the Mozambican power utility. Zesa imports 50 megawatts from Mozambique.
Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said they were working on modalities to clear the debts even though earlier reports had indicated that the imports are pre-paid.
“The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has a liability towards Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique of about $10 million in power imports,” he said.
“The credit control measures currently being implemented by the utility as a result of the absence of a 2016 tariff adjustment, and priority support from the central bank will ensure that the debt is amortised quickly due to the strategic nature electricity has to national security. The ZETDC also has a good credit rating with all its external suppliers of power and is a prime customer due to the availability of hard currency in the form of the US dollar, while it also engages suppliers consistently to ensure that security of electricity supply is maintained.”
Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) recently shot down a proposal by Zesa to increase electricity costs by 49 percent, declaring that the average power tariff should remain pegged at 9,86 cents per kilowatt per hour this year. The power utility had proposed that the average tariff be 14,69 c/kWh.
Mr Gwasira said the country had not experienced load shedding in the past nine months.
“All the power outages that are being experienced by some consumers are a result of theft and vandalism to transformers and equipment failure due to age and obsolescence,” he said.
“Electricity networks are sometimes deliberately switched off as a result of planned maintenance, of which customers are notified of this in the media beforehand. Sometimes the network is also switched off to enable staff to repair sudden faults but there hasn’t been any load shedding. In some cases, ZETDC had been experiencing an upsurge in cases of theft and vandalism wherein transformers had been the prime target with perpetrators draining oil or completely damaging them, with affected customers having to go for prolonged periods without electricity. ZETDC appeals to the affected consumers to bear with us while replacement works of the damaged equipment are being carried out.”
Mr Gwasira said the Dema emergency power plant was now contributing 100MW to the national grid, a development that had stabilised the power supply situation.
On solar projects that are expected to bring in an additional 300MW, Mr Gwasira said: “The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is making considerable progress to ensure that the solar projects come to fruition as planned.’’