ZNFU bemoans extra power increase

ZAMBIA National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has bemoaned the proposed additional low power factor which is a measure of electricity efficiency drawn from the Zesco system, saying it will increase the cost of agricultural produce.
Last week, Zesco Limited gave a one-year grace period to its maximum demand customer who includes industries, commercials, agriculture and social sector like water utility, among others to comply with the proposed 0.96 power factor surcharge or face punishment.
ZNFU senior economist commodities and trade Humphrey Katotoka, in a presentation recently, said while farmers appreciate the use of power factor adjustment in both emerging and advanced economies, the 0.96 power factor proposed by Zesco Limited is too high a target for Zambia.
“Farmers are concerned that the cost of doing business is already too high to compete with imported products. The power factor correction surcharge will only add to the cost of production and disadvantage famers to compete with foreign producers,” he said.
Mr Katotoka said farmers who have already installed the system have experienced improved power factor readings over 10 percent but never reached the 0.92 mark.
He said farmers argued that Zesco Limited cannot in many cases even supply a 220 voltage which shows that the company’s efficiency targets are far below customer expectations.
“Zesco Limited has repeatedly indicated that increasing power generation without improving distribution would be of limited value to consumers,” he said.
Mr Katotoka, however, said farmers have observed that the power utility has continued to load up the existing distribution system without corresponding measures to upgrade the system.
He advised Zesco Limited to focus more on upgrading the distribution system and to consider investing in power quality improvement to satisfy customers as opposed to proposing punitive measures for them.

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