LINDA NYONDO, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT is making arrangements to import between 150 to 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity as a short-term measure to help cushion the power deficit arising from poor rains and low water levels in the main reservoirs for electricity generation.
Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma told Parliament yesterday in a ministerial statement on the electricity deficit in the country that Government is also working with developers at the 300MW Maamba coal power plant to mitigate power outages.
The minister told the House that Government is promoting alternative renewable technologies that do not depend on water for electricity production.
â€œWe anticipate that the rationing of all power to all the customers will be alleviated progressively as the mitigation measures are implemented.
â€œAssuming that during the next rainy season the rainfall pattern will be favourable, we should return to normal power supply situation,â€™â€™ he said.
The minister said other than the poor rainfall pattern, the growing demand which stands at 150 to 200 MW annually has contributed to the deficit.
He said this is being addressed by putting up new power stations, which unfortunately take time to be constructed.
â€œFor the financial year 2015 budget, Zesco projected the production of 12,900 gigawatt hours based on earlier indications from the meteorology department of normal rain to above-normal rains for the 2014/15 rainy season,â€ Mr Yaluma said.
He said the Zambezi River Authority announced reduction of water allocation for power generation at the Kariba Dam.
â€œWith a similar rain pattern in the Kafue River Basin (The Itezhi Tezhi Dam), Zesco has had to revise the available energy to 10,800 gigawatt hours giving a deficit of 2,100 gigawatt hours,â€™â€™ Mr Yaluma said.
He said these figures translate to reducing the average generation at Kafue Gorge Power Station from 800MW to 540MW and Kariba North Bank from 800MW to 500MW.
Mr Yaluma said with the situation at hand, Zesco has stopped non-firm exports.
â€œFirm contracts are currently underway as these are contracts which when terminated abruptly there are legal implications on Zesco and the country at large.
â€œCurrently 90 megawatts is being exported under the firm contracts,â€™â€™ he said.
Mr Yaluma told the House that he does not support the 10-hour load-shedding.
He said Government wants to do all it can to mitigate and reduce the suffering of Zambians.
Mr Yaluma said Zesco has been forced to ration power because it has to preserve the turbines, failure to which the entire country could be plunged into darkness and it would be expensive to replace the equipment.
Meanwhile, Mr Yaluma said the prices of solar panels cannot be reduced because they are manufactured outside the country.
LINDA NYONDO, Lusaka