Yeukai Karengezeka, Harare Bureau
NATIONAL power utility, Zesa, has downgraded load shedding from stage two to stage one after it started receiving 400 MW supply from Eskom of South Africa last Thursday, an official has said.
Zesa will now cut off power during the morning and evening peak hours.
The peak hours are 5AM to 10AM and 5PM to 10PM and are largely predictable and easy to plan for. The development comes after Government made arrangements with the South African firm to offset its US$23 million debt by paying US$890 000 weekly.
In an interview, Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said the new development will not do away with load shedding completely, but will downgrade to level one.
“The electricity supply situation has improved significantly, following interventions by both Government and the line Ministry to access power from the region.
“I can confirm that we started receiving power from Eskom on Thursday after payment modalities were worked out by both utilities. This power supply situation gives predictability to load shedding and largely puts all customers in Stage 1 load shedding. So there is significant relief, but does not eliminate load shedding,” said Mr Gwasira.
He said the peak times will be from 5 AM to 10AM and 5PM to 10PM and that consumers would be guided accordingly.
“Load shedding is a function of demand and supply and when the demand is low and supply we do not shed and vice versa.
“Our mandate is to supply power and not to implement load shedding,”
Mr Gwasira said the power will be channelled more to the productive sectors to allow the economy to function well.
“Eskom power allows the utility to prioritiSe the productive sectors to ensure the economy to function,” he said.
He said Kariba lost generation from 1 050 MW to the current 277MW due to low water levels and the gap of about 700 MW from Kariba still exists.
“Our plants are still old and still have a high frequency of break down. Kariba has lost 800MW and Eskom is providing 400MW. There is still a gap of about 400MW which will be managed by load shedding”.
He urged customers to clear off their arrears which have accumulated to over $1,2 billion to sustain the power supply.
“I also want to add that this power is coming at a great cost and thereby urge all customers to pay their bills to ensure that the prevailing electricity supply situation is maintained and sustained. There is still a great need to conserve the power available,” said Mr Gwasira.
The new load shedding is expected to bring a relief to the business sector whose operations had been largely affected by the power cuts forcing them cut operating hours.