ESKOM power imports still a challenge – Zesco

ZESCO says it has continued facing challenges in importing the full 300 megawatts from South African power utility ESKOM.

Addressing the media in Lusaka yesterday, Zesco board chairman Dr Mbita Chitala disclosed that the challenge was due to limited availability of a wheeling path during off peak period as the Zambian utility, NAMPOWER of Namibia, and ZETDC of Zimbabwe were all major importers from ESKOM.

He said Zesco has been competing on wheeling power from ESKCOM due to the power deficit affecting the entire region.

“To mitigate the power deficit, Zesco will be bringing on board the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro power station (KGL) which is a 750 Mega watts power plant. KGL is expected to be commissioned in phases, beginning with the first 150 MW machine by May 2020. The project is on course and currently at 80 per cent complete. This is Zesco’s flagship project and the corporation expects the last of the five (5) x 150 Megawatts machines at KGL to be completed within 2020. This is a cascade plant just a few kilometres downstream of the Kafue Gorge upper power station,” Chitala said.

Without stating when, Chitala said Zesco expects to reduce load-shedding hours to less than 12 hours as the power balance improves.

He further said Zesco had run out of its water allocation for the year 2019 at Kariba.

Chitala added that owing to continued recession of water levels at the reservoirs, the average generation target was further reduced between September and December 2019.

“Consequently, load management hours increased to a minimum of six hours daily, followed by ten hours, 17 hours and currently 15 hours.”

“To mitigate this deficit, Zesco, with help from government paid for the importation of power from ESKOM of South Africa, which begun on November 22, 2019,” Chitala said.

He said Zesco was also expecting about 200 MW from the renewable solar project in Serenje by the end of 2020.

“This and the aforementioned projects will help to stabilise the power supply in the country going forward. In line with vision 2030 and the 7th National Development Plan, Zesco will also continue to pursue other interventions which include the 1,200 megawatts Batoka, 1,000 MW Luapula basin hydro projects as well as a 120 MW solar project under the Getfit programme,” said Chitala.

And Zesco director-strategy and corporate services Patrick Mwila said the ESKOM power importation contract was only for three months subject to fulfilling payments to the power utility.

Mwila said currently Zesco has no water at Kariba to generate power.

He said water overutilisation penalties would continue.

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