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Prepaid meters save electricity

At least 23% of electricity is being saved through the use of prepaid meters, a senior official with the power utility’s distribution company said last week.

BY VICTORIA MTOMBA

Zesa rolled out prepaid meters in 2011 to encourage the efficient use of electricity in the wake of demand outstripping generation capacity.

“We can now pay for power imports upfront as well as reduce load shedding but power is already in short supply. We are producing 1 400MW of power and we are importing 100MW from the region because the region is also facing power supply problems,” Zimbabwe Electricity, Transimission and Distribution Company acting commercial director Ralph Katsande said last week.

South African power utility Eskom on Friday declared an emergency saying the system remained severely constrained, a day after it temporarily implemented blackouts across the country to ease pressure on the grid.

Eskom said in a statement that any extra load or faults in the power system were likely to result in more crippling blackouts.

Katsande said the country required 2 200MW per day but the country sometimes generates 1 800MW which was far short of the required power.

According to Zesa, power supply stood at 1 364 MW on Friday. Hwange produced 468MW against an installed capacity of 700MW.
Last week, Zesa Holdings published load shedding schedules, a sign that power cuts will be experienced throughout the country.

Zimbabwe has not invested much in new energy generating plants since 1980 and is currently working on the extension of Kariba 7 and 8 while the development of Hwange 7 and 8 projects was expected to resume soon.

Electricity still remains a challenge among individuals and companies. Companies are facing difficulties in addressing power challenges with others having so far bought standby generators to ease the power cuts.

Power cuts have been cited among the major constraints faced by companies in this economy since 2009.

According to the ministry of Finance, the energy sector is expected to grow by 4,5%, spurred by rehabilitation projects at Hwange and small power stations and also improved revenue collection from the installation of prepaid meters.

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