By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
ZESCO has finally admitted that the load management announced in December last year is in fact load shedding and Zambians will as of today start experiencing what the power utility company has termed planned rotational Load Shedding exercise.
There had been several conflicting statements from Zesco and government including President Hakainde Hichilema about the load shedding, the Head of State announcing that his government had ended load shedding while his Energy Minister Peter Kapala told the nation that Zambians would be subjected to Load Management.
But load shedding is now back and Zesco is attributing the power deficit in the country to natural causes among which is the lower water levels in Kariba Reservoir is reported to have hit critically levels.
The power utility company has announced it is set to commence its Load Shedding programme today, which according to Zesco would run until 25th January, 2023.
Energy Minister Peter Kapala on December 15th, 2022 announced in Parliament that Zesco was to commence what he called six hours Load Management, a synonym of Load Shedding.
The Zesco load shedding announced by Mr Kapala came after President Hakainde Hichilema had told the nation that the UPND government had ended load shedding barely months after summing the governance of the country.
At his end of year press conference, President Hichilema insisted that load shedding had ended and challenged Zambians experiencing load shedding to come out.
But now, Zesco in a statement yesterday, stated that it had experienced a drastic reduction in available water for electricity generation at Kariba North Bank Power Station due to critically reduced water levels in the Kariba reservoir.
“As at 31 December 2022, the water level was at 475.60 meters above sea level, a situation that has necessitated the reduction of generation at the 1080MW Power Station facility to below 400MW, and thereby affecting the ability to meet the system load/customer power demand, especially during morning and evening peak demand periods,” ZESCO stated.
The power utility company said the inability to meet the power demand would had been compounded by the planned outage of a 150MW Generator at Maamba Collieries Limited Power Plant for routine annual maintenance scheduled to take place from the January 4th to the 20th, 2023.
It stated that the compounded generator outage at Maamba Coal Thermal Power Plant coupled with the critical low water level at Kariba reservoir would lead to ZESCO carrying out a rotational Load Shedding exercise. “To mitigate the effects of Load Shedding, ZESCO will endeavour to optimize electricity generation at all other power generating stations to the extent that the integrity and safety of the power system is safeguarded. ZESCO will continuously notify its customers and the public on the power availability status through various electronic and print media houses,” the company stated.
The power utility company has therefore encouraged customers to look out for Load Shedding schedules in the press and the company website once published.
As a safety precaution, customers have been advised to treat all power supply lines to be live, as power may be restored before the scheduled time.