Zambia could be headed for a serious electricity deficit because of low water levels at Itezhi-Tezhi reservoir and Kariba Dam following the shortened period of rainfall this season.
ZESCO spokesperson Henry Kapata confirmed that due to low water levels at sources of power generation the company has a big challenge.
The matter may have dire consequences on power generation by ZESCO and consequently affect industry and other consumers of power.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) reports on its website that it has learnt that low water levels at Itezhi-tezhi reservoir and Kariba following the shortened period of rainfall this season will have dire consequences on power generation by ZESCO.
At Itezhi-Tezhi only 70 per cent of required water levels has been achieved yet when the rainfall pattern is normal, the 100percent levels of water required for power generation is achieved by April.
Farmers have requested ZESCO to estimate how many power generation days can be achieved from the water levels available.
According to ZNFU report ZESCO has indicated that they will be engaging various water stakeholders who include farmers to discuss ways of conserving water in view of the low water levels and to enhance adoption of demand management measures.
It is therefore evident that load shedding on a wider scale could be on the horizon.
The report also pointed at the following:-
• Power factor surcharge will be introduced by January 2016.
• The Energy Regulation Board (ERB) is in the process of conducting a cost of service study which will contribute to determining the next tariff adjustments.
• 150 megawatts of coal generated power will hit the ZESCO grid by November 2015 and another 150 megawatts will become available in the first quarter of 2016.
• Union should lobby for removal of VAT on power factor correction equipment and VSD equipment.
• Increased power outages will be faced by farmers in the Kabwe/Kapiri area as Zesco prepares to put in a by-pass in preparation for the upgrading (re-conducting) of the Kabwe/Kapiri 88 kV line and when the actual works are being done. The current period for this work is April to end of July but subject to changes.
The report further says that ZESCO will step up customer notification of the outages through ZNFU and SMS during this period.