Power utility Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) began load shedding Monday to manage a power shortfall caused by limited generation and reduced imports.

ZETDC had last Thursday warned power users that it might be forced to re-introduce load shedding in the near future if demand continued to outstrip supplies following the curtailment of power generation at its Kariba South Hydro Power Station.

There has also been curtailed generation at the country’s thermal power stations because of aged equipment.

According to a schedule issued by the power utility at the weekend, load shedding will normally be implemented during the peak periods of 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. However, experience has shown that periods of power outages are much longer than the scheduled times.

“Every effort is being directed at improving the generation capacity to ensure that supply disruptions are kept at minimum levels. In order to assist in reducing the power demand, customers are encouraged to use the limited available power sparingly by switching off all non-essential loads. Domestic geysers, swimming pool pumps, jacuzzis and other related equipment should be switched off at peak times for more areas to have power,” the company said.

Both domestic and industrial users will be affected in what the company said would be Stage 1 of load shedding, while a second stage will be implemented if the power deficit is more than earlier anticipated.

“Please be advised that the power supply situation is dynamic. In the event that the power shortfall increases beyond the planned limits, load shedding will move into Stage 2. These are additional areas that well be switched off as peer the schedule when the shortfall is higher for the particular time. Customers will be informed as soon as the situation requires Stage 2 implementation,” the company warned.

Zimbabwe had enjoyed more than four years without load shedding, but the drought of 2018/19 has pushed the Zambezi River Authority to reduce water allocation to the Zimbabwe Power Company from 19 billion cubic meters to 16 billion cubic meters for 2019, thus reducing power generation. The rationing is meant to ensure that the plant continues to run until the next rainy season.

Power generation at Hwange Thermal Power Station and the smaller thermal power stations of Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati remains fragile because of old age.

Chinese company Sinohydro is currently refurbishing Hwange Thermal Power Station at a cost of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to add two generators each producing 300MW.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa commissioned the project last June, with work expected to be completed in 42 months.

The power station currently has an installed capacity of 920MW but cannot generate at optimum level because of the ageing equipment. Enditem


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