A few days after rubbishing a social media load shedding schedule, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has finally released the loading shedding programmes for 2019 which it claimed was finalising.
This came on the backdrop of massive power cuts that have swept across the country leaving many areas in total blackout for more than 10 hours per day.
The schedule was released after a similar one purported to have come from ZETDC was leaked onto various social media platforms. This resulted in the issuance of a press statement that rubbished the schedule even though it corresponded well with the power cuts that were already in full swing.
The fact of the matter is the press statement was a PR stunt and looking at how detailed the social media load shedding schedule is, it must have been leaked from ZETDC offices.
On releasing the 2019 load shedding schedules ZETDC revealed that it is experiencing increased power shortfalls, demand and supply mismatch, due to low water levels at Kariba Power Station, generation constraints at Hwange Power Station and limited imports. The power shortfall is being managed through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the demand.
Resultantly, 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.
Last week, ZETDC released a statement detailing the power situation in the country.
"The electricity supply situation in the country has been very stable over the past few years following the expansion of Kariba South Hydro Power Station with the addition of 300MW to the national grid"
"However, the low rainfall season for the year 2018 and 2019 has led to low water inflows into Lake Kariba. Whilst normal generation has been subsisting up to now, the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has reduced water allocation to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) from 19 Billion cubic meters to 16 Billion cubic meters for 2019. This is to enable the plant to be operational until the next rainy season."
"To this end, electricity generation at Kariba Power Station will thus be reduced to an average of 358MW from the planned average of 542MW as a direct result of this water allocation reduction and this has led to a power supply gap. The water supply situation, and thus generation at Kariba, will be reviewed as the year progresses. Generation at Hwange Power Station and the Small Thermal power stations of Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati remain fragile due to old age." read part of the statement.
Interestingly, the old schedule has some similarity with the new one and it seems ZETDC is not following their own schedule as some areas are experiencing power cuts for longer periods.
Residents who spoke to Technomag expressed their dissatisfaction on the load shedding which they said was confusing and very unfair.
"ZESA takes us for granted yet we have paid for the electricity that they are not giving us, imagine going for 12 good hours without power and they don't have the decency to communicate with us on their situation. We demand better service from ZESA," said Mr Mundandi of Budiriro.
Another dissatisfaction came from the fact that other alternative sources of energy are no longer affordable to many.
"If there is no ZESA we are stuck because gas and paraffin are now expensive and it's the same with firewood. We strongly call on the government to do something about the power situation and also skyrocketing of prices. We are suffering and surely something needs to be done urgently." said Miss Machirori of Glen View.
The load shedding cycles will be in two stages as follows;
Stage 1; the first group of customers as listed on the schedule will be switched off as the power shortfall will be within planned limits.
Stage 2; 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 will be switched off as per schedule when the shortfall is higher for the particular time.