Hiked tariffs good for business, says ERB

THE upward adjustment of electricity tariffs proposed by Zesco is meant to make the power utility company perform better and more efficiently in its service delivery, the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has said.

Zesco has proposed to increase electricity tariffs by 50 percent for commercial, social and industrial users, while residential customers whose consumption is below 500 units (kWh) per month have been spared and will continue paying the current tariff of K0.15 per kilo watt per hour.

ERB executive director Langiwe Lungu however assured the nation that ERB would also consider submissions from the public before arriving at a just and reasonable tariff.

Ms. Lungu said this yesterday during the public hearing held at the Zesco tariff review meeting at the Government Complex in Lusaka.

She noted that inconsistent tariff adjustments by Zesco had negatively affected its operations and that it was only logical for the State utility to come up with cost effective tariffs to enable it improve its operations.

‘‘I would like to reiterate that the performance of Zesco will yet again be considered in arriving at the final tariff award. And Sahara Technologies Limited has submitted that the fact that demand for electricity has continued surging, this will lead to more load shedding in the country and noted that Zesco’s proposed increase of electricity tariffs would enable the company invest in generation and transmission.

Project engineer Mwango Chisha however said that the present power crisis should be a wake-up call that should provide a chance for undertaking better management of electricity in the country. But Universal Mining Chemicals Industry (UMCIL) submitted that while it was logical for Zesco to increase tariffs there was need for other measures to be put in place such as removing duty on certain materials that some industries imported from other countries in order to reduce on production costs.

UMCIL managing director Rodgers Delly said load shedding had already caused substantial damage to property due to constant power outages which companies were already spending a lot of money on. Mr. Delly said Government needed to come in and cushion such expenses by waiving duty on certain materials if industries were to survive from the new tariffs.

But Ruth Henson, a farmer from Southern Province, urged Zesco to only effect its new tariffs on mining companies because they were the major consumers of power in the country.

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