ZESA HOLDINGS has warned of more power cuts over the next two weeks to allow the resumption of maintenance work on Kariba Dam.
These had been shelved from December 16 during the festive season break, resulting in minimal load shedding.
At the same time, a large swathe of industry went on its annual shutdown.
In a statement yesterday, Zesa said the Zambezi River Authority was resuming the rehabilitation works and so the authority had asked the two power stations (Kariba North and Kariba South) to reduce output by taking some of their generation units out of service each day.
The rehabilitation on the dam wall involves two processes: renovating the flood gates and reshaping the plunge pool downstream.
It is this work on the plunge pool that requires reduced flow during working hours. Zesa said the expected completion date of the rehabilitation project was January 25 and stakeholders would be notified on the progress.
“Consumers are urged to use available power sparingly to minimise effects of curtailment,” reads the statement.
The plunge pool was largely created by erosion of the old river bed from water flowing through the flood gates in the early years of the dam.
As power generation increased, especially when Kariba North was added, more of the river flow was diverted through the power stations until the position was reached where the flood gates have not been opened for several years.
The Zambezi River Authority, explaining the work, said there had been almost no change in the plunge pool for 15 years now, but experts felt that evacuating the downstream end to expand the size would end any risk that the erosion could cut back to the dam wall.
Zesa also recently pushed up electricity tariffs by 12,3 percent with effect from January 1 which will see families on pre-paid meters buying 200 units a month for $1 265,11 including the six percent rural electrification levy.
This is a slight jump up from just under $1,127 which consumers were previously paying. There are five bands of discounted tariffs before the full $14,31 a unit comes into effect on all purchases over 400 units, although consumers can only have the advantage of the discounts on their first purchase each month. Subsequent purchases are charged at the full price.
The first 50 units cost $2,38 each, before the rural levy so the full 50 units will cost a domestic consumer on a pre-paid meter $126,14 including the rural electrification levy.
The 50 units are considered the rock bottom a family needs for essential purposes and assumes that they do not use electricity to heat water for bathing.