Saturday, May 8, 2021

Massive power blackouts anticipated in winter

Local households should brace for massive national power cuts during the coming winter season as local electricity demand continues to outstrip demand. The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has already vowed to implement load shedding as a way of controlling demand.

The Corporation last week warned that it anticipates power supply challenges during peak times in the winter season due to low generation capacity and high demand for power within the region. As part of its Demand Side Management (DSM) initiatives to alleviate power supply deficit challenges, BPC said it will embark on a program to manage customer loads remotely.

A press statement released by the Corporation states that the program is expected to commence from 28th April and will be used whenever demand outstrips supply. The program will cover the following areas; Gaborone, Francistown, Lobatse, Phikwe and Jwaneng. The latest initiatives are intended to keep load shedding as minimal as possible during peak demand and create equity in the conservation of electricity. The Corporation also explained that the program will only be used as a first step when there is shortage of power so as to minimize load shedding.

“It will be limited to domestic and small business customers who will be required to maintain loads within 10A (2300Watts) during peak periods (6am-10am and 6pm-10pm). Exceeding the set load limit will lead to automatic disconnection of power supply which can only be restored after a period of one hour. It’s worth noting that continued non-compliance to the set load limit will lead to the power being supplied after the peak period (4 hours),” said BPC.

At the same time, the stipulated 10A will typically allow customers to use at least 10 CFL lights (60Watts) and the television, any other appliances besides these should be switched off.

While normal supply of 60A will be restored when power is available, customers are duly encouraged to continue to conserve electricity at all times. While electricity demand has gone up in the country, electricity supply is still low as the country’s biggest power station Morupule B power plant is not fully operational. Botswana has had problems with power supply over the last five years after its main supplier; neighbouring South Africa drastically reduced the amount of power sold to Botswana due to its own electricity supply challenges.

In February, finance and development planning minister, Kenneth Matambo said government had no option but to divert a portion of the national budget to rescuing the embattled power utility. This was not the first time that government make such a special dispensation for BPC. Matambo said that the Corporation has been allocated P1.5 billion to cover tariff subsidy and some operational expenses during the 2015/16 financial year.

“A total of P12.93 billion is proposed for the development budget for the financial year 2015/2016. The largest share of the development budget is allocated to the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) at P3.32 billion or 25.7 percent of the budget. This will allow government to continue to address the water and power issues facing the country by putting in place appropriate infrastructure,” Matambo said in February.

At the same time the minister also announced that government has budgeted P100 million towards the refurbishment of Morupule A, P100 million for electrification of villages while P50 million will be spared for the North West Power Transmission Grid. Government also expect to spend at least another P50 million at Rakola Power Substation while the ZIZABONA regional power project is estimated to cost atleast P33 million.

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