ZESCO Limited says it is targeting to achieve a zero to four hour load shedding schedule per day by the end of this year following the injection of additional electricity from the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Project.

Zesco recently projected a systematic reduction of load shedding using a graduated system called Weather Induced Power Deficit (WIPOD-19), which ensures a more predictable and consistent load management schedule for customers with level-one, 0-4 hours; level-two, 4-8 hours; level-three, 8-12 hours; level-four with 12-16 hours; level-five with 16-20 hours and level-six (blackout) with 20-24 hours of load shedding.

In an interview, Zesco senior manager corporate affairs Dr John Kunda said that the current level of eight to 12 hours load shedding might be reduced to eight to 10 hours daily as the company continued with a conservative approach of the water allocation until September, 2020, when Zambia was expected to move to level two.

He added that the power utility ultimately targeted to limit daily load shedding hours to a maximum of four hours per day by the end of this year following the additional electricity due to be injected into the national grid from the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Project.

“So, load shedding will remain according to the WIPOD-19 plan, but will be oscillating towards the lower end of that plan, which is on average, eight hours. So, as we are moving towards the end of the year, we are reducing load shedding unlike experiences in the past where towards the dry season, it was getting worse. This time, we are using the weather-induced power deficit strategy, the WIPOD-19, which is aimed at reducing load shedding as we are moving towards the rainy season. We’ve said that our load shedding should be between eight to 12 hours daily. On average, I think many experience six hours of load shedding, many people don’t experience load shedding; those who do, it averages around 10 hours. But in the last two to three months, the average has gone down to about six hours and our target is that between now and September, we will continue with a very conservative approach of the water allocation until September when we go down to four to eight hours of load shedding,” Dr Kunda said.

“That’s what we have done and our targeting is based on conservative estimates in that if we run into a problem, even next year of not having enough rainfall, we will still maintain within four to eight hours of load shedding. But our target is between now to September, eight to 12 hours then September, October, November, we are targeting that we will go down to four to eight hours and then December, we still go down to zero to four hours because we would have switched on the first machine in the first week of October; the second machine in November and December we switch on the third machine at Kafue Gorge Lower (Hydropower Project). So, by the end of the year, load shedding should be between zero to four hours. I am confident that the average number of hours between now to September, we should be floating around eight hours, but we may go down.”

And Dr Kunda said the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA)’s increased water allocation to Zesco would help the power utility operate on the minimum of level three.

Last Friday, the ZRA announced an increase in the water allocation for power generation to both Zesco and the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), the Zambian and Zimbabwean power utilities respectively, to 27 Billion Cubic Metres (BCM).

“In view of the allocation, it gives us even more leverage to operate between eight and 10 hours instead of oscillating on the extreme of 12 hours of load shedding within the same level three we are currently in with a possibility of further review as we draw into the third quarter of the year. So, this particular review of the allocation gives us some leverage to operate on the minimum side of level three. But moving forward, there is a possibility to review further depending on forecasts for the rainy season,” said Dr Kunda.