Consumers default hits Zesa

HARARE - Zesa Holdings (Zesa) says it is failing to pay for electricity imports and maintain its power stations due to increasing consumer bills payment default.

The utility said its power distribution subsidiary Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company ZETDC) — owed over $792 million by both commercial and domestic consumers — will resort to increased load shedding if the crisis is not addressed urgently.

“This position is threatening the prevailing favourable power supply situation and, if not corrected, will lead to a deterioration of the reliability of supply, which in turn will have a negative impact on economic recovery,” said ZETDC.

Zimbabwe continues to battle with power shortages with Zesa generating 1 000 megawatts (MW) against a demand of 2 200 MW.

ZETDC recently said the country will be experiencing power shortages of 624MW in the coming winter months.

“ZETDC has noted with serious concern that over the past three months, there has been significant slackening in the manner some of the customers have been paying their electricity bills,” said the company.

The company warned that it will tighten its credit control measures and threatened to disconnect defaulting consumers.

To boost winter wheat production, ZETDC said it will commit 960MW uninterrupted power supply to the major wheat belt feeders in line with the irrigation cycle requirements.

“Adequate electricity is key to national food security through Zimbabwe’s self-sufficiency in wheat production,” said ZETDC.

The bulk of Zimbabwe’s wheat is irrigated using electricity.

“To this end, ZETDC has been focusing on ensuring adequate power supply for the major wheat clusters in spite of persistent challenges of supply shortfalls that have been resulting in load shedding outside advertised schedules.”

Irrigated wheat production deteriorated significantly over the past few years with inadequate power supplies being cited as major cause.

Zimbabwe needs about 450 000 tonnes of the cereal annually for bread making and other purposes but only produced 16 176 tonnes last season.

The country harvested 87 515 tonnes of the cereal in the 2007 to 2008 season and 150 487 tonnes in the 2006 to 2007 season. - Business Writer

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