Possible electricity imports for Zambia’s mining sector

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Publication Date: 
18 January 2013
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18 January 2013 - According to Zambia Reports Zambia’s energy regulator has proposed that the government of Africa’s biggest copper producer should import power from the southern African region to stem a shortfall.

The country could buy electricity from members of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) energy regulatory board chairman George Chabwera says.The regulator also wants the government to introduce a grid code, which would make it easier for private producers to sell directly to consumers.By using a grid code private producers would pay a set fee to provide power to customers using existing electricity transmission lines.

Zambia has a power shortage of 70 MW and state owned utility Zesco has been asking mining companies to reduce their usage by about 100 MW in the evenings. These restrictions will be in place for the next nine months. Zesco plans to spend about US$5 billion to deal with the power shortfall in the country and possibly develop plans that put it in a position to be an exporter of power once again.

Zesco applied to the Energy Regulation Board to raise electricity prices by an average of 26%last year.The regulator was unable to make a decision because it didn’t have a board until the end of November 2012. A ruling, which won’t be backdated, will be made by the end of March 2013.

Zambia relies on hydro-power for more than 90% of its current 1,750 MW of generation capacity, almost all of which Zesco operates.