Power tariff hike looms

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HARARE – Zimbabweans should brace themselves for a steep electricity tariff hike next year after the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZEDTC) and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) applied to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) for a review of electricity tariffs for 2016.

The tariff hike applications come amid debilitating power shortages and blackouts in the country that are largely blamed on the incompetence of authorities that have seen consumers sometimes having to make do without electricity for two days on a stretch.zesa

Part of the justification for the price hike applications is that current average tariff charges in Zimbabwe are 9,86 cents per

kilowatt, well below the average regional tariff cost of 14 cents per kilowatt.

The proposed increases also come at a time when Energy minister Samuel Undenge has advised mining firms that they should look for their own power supplies to augment the erratic supplies from Zesa.

According to Undenge, the acute power deficit currently being experienced in Zimbabwe — in which the country is producing less than 1 000 Megawatts (MW) against a peak demand of around 2 200 MW per day — will hopefully be addressed by the end of 2018.

It is in that light that Impala Platinum’s Zimbabwean unit, Zimplats, recently concluded a power import deal with Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa.

Chamber of mines first vice president, Batirai Manhando, also announced earlier this month that they would be engaging South Africa’s electricity utility, Eskom, in an endeavour to get it to supply local mines with power directly.

ZETDC says its application for a tariff increase was intensified by the power company’s need to procure 200 MW, mainly from South Africa, to cover the shortfall due to low supply from the Kariba Power Station.

“The purpose of the proposed tariff increase is to cover the increased costs of the emergency power and additional imports in order to maintain supply at current levels and avoid shrinking the economy,” ZETDC said.

If allowed to effect the increase, ZETDC said consumers would benefit from reduced load shedding, increased electricity availability and improved investor confidence.

On its part, Zera said the major reason for the proposed increase was the need to cater for additional emergency power sources which would be imported from regional utilities.

“Zera will consult various consumer groups including the following; Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, residents’ associations, farmers’ unions, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Mines, and any other interested consumers,” it said.

The new tariffs, Zera said, would only be determined once due diligence involving all relevant stakeholders was completed.

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