National power utility, ZESA Holdings, has constituted a group called the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) for joint access to power as electricity shortages wreak havoc in the country.
Zesa Stakeholder Relations and Communications Welfare general manager George Manyaya told the Independent that the project was still at its embryonic stage.
Minutes of a meeting held on 26 April 2022 at Zesa National Training Centre indicate that the EIUG can import power upon approval from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) as prescribed in the Electricity Act and can hold funds outside the country.
The motion to adopt the constitution of the EIUG was carried at the meeting with Trojan, Afrochin, Blanket, Turk and Rio Zimbabwe in support. Zimplats, however, abstained.
The meeting suggested:
- a). the appointment of four members as EIUG inaugural board members and a further three members being appointed at a later date.
- b). nominated representatives of Blanket, Afrochin, Riozim and Eureka mines and declared them inaugural members of the EIUG board.
- c). the secretariat which would be determined later by the board shall, in the meantime, continue to be provided by ZESA.
- d). the EIUG chairperson and deputy will be elected soon.
- e). Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa mines were urged to have at least one member on the board to represent their interests.
Zesa Holdings consultant Cletus Nyachowe said the group was expected to play a leadership role in alleviating the energy crisis in the country. Nyachowe said at the meeting:
Users with energy consumption of more than five megawatts have been invited to the meeting. The group will have the power to conduct its own imports.
Zesa will be facilitating external and internal independent power producers (IPP), balancing power and regulating wheeling charges.
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) acting managing director Howard Choga said demand reached 1 730 megawatts at peak while the lowest demand stood at 1 500 megawatts. He added that:
a). For the 2022 winter period there was projected demand of 2 000 megawatts, which will lead to load shedding.
b). From recently received applications, a load growth of 2200 megawatts is expected over the next three years.
c). EIUG is expected to have Power Purchase Agreements as a regional off-take, both in Zimbabwe and externally.
ZETDC director John Diya said off-take guarantees are an essential part of improving the viability of energy projects in the region, adding that 750 megawatts is the current limit on power imports dictated by stability concerns.
The power utility is currently in need of about US$2.5 billion to end load shedding and is battling to get from the central bank its monthly requirement of US$17 million to import electricity.
The country is currently grappling with frequent power cuts, which according to the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), have pushed production costs up by 150%.
More: The Independent