HomeNewsPower outages push company overheads

Power outages push company overheads

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LOCAL manufacturing firms and mining companies are incurring as much as $8 in costs for every kilowatt hour (kWh)lost due to idleness resulting from frequent power outages, a study by a industrial lobby group has shown.

Report by Victoria Mtomba

Speaking at a power sector symposium yesterday, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries energy and environment committee member Marsden Sibanda said the perennial energy crisis besetting the economy was not only making local firms uncompetitive, but was also threatening the viability of key economic sectors.

He said there was need for strict adherence to the load-shedding schedule per industrial area. He also said a separate plan was needed for intensive energy users.

“At $0,12 per kWh from Zesa or Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, it is better than generator at plus $0,33, but recent studies $2,50 and $8,00 per kWh as costs of not having power for industry and mines respectively hence the need to work for a common Zimbabwe solution,” Sibanda said.

Sibanda said while the industrial lobby group fully understood that the power sector was not meeting the current energy demands, there was need to invest in the sector. Zimbabwe’s five power stations are currently generating 1 200 megawatts daily against peak demand of 2 200MW.

Capacity utilisation for the manufacturing sector this year dropped to 39% from 44% in 2012 due to a myriad of problems which include underfunding and frequent power outages.

Sibanda said there was need for clarity on the planned restructuring of Zesa which was announced before the July 31 elections.

Speaking at the same forum, Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development Munacho Mutezo said government had since resolved to go back to the old Zesa structure and that it would not privatise.

Mutezo said government was implementing projects to address the shortfall since the country had old infrastructure that needed to be rehabilitated.

“We are also looking at investing in other power generating systems which have a short lead time especially solar generating plants as well as small hydros and peaking power solutions. We implore the private sector to come on board to also invest in this lucrative sector. This can give us extra power within a year or so,” he said

Zesa chief executive officer Josh Chifamba said the government had availed $69 million towards the Hwange Power Station rehabilitation while Zimbabwe Power Company contributed $35,29million towards the projects.

Chifamba said the projects undertaken included water systems, stage 11 air systems, electro hydro control system upgrade and stage 1 boiler feed pumps.
He said the power output could have been more, but during this period the power utility carried out maintenance works.

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