Government is crafting legislation to outlaw the use of electric geysers as it battles to reduce electricity consumption following crippling power outages that have hit the country.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Mr Partson Mbiriri, yesterday said electric geysers consumed 40 percent of domestic power and that Government was working on ways to replace them with solar-powered geysers.
He said a statutory instrument would soon be gazetted to make it a crime to use an electric geyser and that an announcement to that effect would be made next week.
He said a deadline to phase out electric geysers would be set and people given time to replace their current gadgets with solar-powered geysers which are cheaper to manage and consume considerably less power and are environmentally friendly.
Mr Mbiriri told our Bulawayo Bureau on the sidelines of a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Expo in Bulawayo that Government blundered by failing to invest in electricity generation for past 25 years.
“There will be a launch of this programme (banning of electric geysers) next week and details will be availed then. But certainly a decision has been taken because electric geysers use 40 percent of power in any household,” said Mr Mbiriri.
“And of course we leave those electric geysers on even when we don’t need to use hot water. They are on 24 /7. A decision has been made; rather than continue to waste electricity, let’s substitute electric geysers with solar geysers. There will be an announcement sometime next week, most probably on Wednesday when the Minister of Energy is going to launch the programme.”
He said a statutory instrument was still being crafted to make possession of electric geysers illegal.
“Once it has been legislated for, yes it will be illegal. What will happen is there will be recognition of the amount of time that is needed to roll out this programme. Whereas on paper it may seem illegal, it will be a question of how much time we give to the country to implement the programme. At a certain cut-off date, it will be illegal,” Mr Mbiriri said.
He said Government was in the process of rehabilitating the country’s four thermal power stations to address the electricity challenges.
Mr Mbiriri said the nation should not expect immediate results from the power stations as they would take a year and half to start generating power.
“For Bulawayo thermal power station, we’ve been offered $87 million by an Indian bank and $70 million for the Harare one. Each of the projects will take 18 months to be implemented,” he said.
Mr Mbiriri could not confirm whether the money was readily available.
“The money has been offered officially. Its availability in the country is neither here nor there. We go by the offer as made officially through Foreign Affairs and certainly we don’t consider that those offers can turn out to be something else,” he said.
He said it was unfortunate that the country was only reacting to power problems after they had reached unprecedented levels.
“We did not invest in the energy sector, in the power sector, for many years. The last phase of Hwange was done in 1987. From 1987 until last year when we had Kariba extension we did not invest any money in additional power generation,” he said.
Mr Mbiriri said the country should expect improved electricity generation in 2018 when projects that are being implemented are complete.
“We anticipate that come end of 2017, we should experience material improvement in power generation. In 2018, we should be generating enough to meet our domestic requirements,” he said.
Mr Mbiriri said the country was now saving about 200MW through the implementation of the cash power project. He said low water levels at Kariba Dam had worsened the situation.
“There is nothing dramatic you can do in response. In other words you can’t find a quick solution to reduced generation from Kariba or any other station,” he said.
Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company released a new load-shedding schedule which will see households and commercial entities going for hours without electricity.
The power utility said the level and duration of load-shedding could go beyond advertised schedules.
“In order to assist in reducing the power demand, customers are encouraged to use the limited power sparingly by switching off all non-essential loads. Domestic geysers, swimming pool pumps and jacuzzis should be switch off at peak times for more areas to have power. Large power users are being requested to reduce their demand during the morning and evening peak periods of 5am to 10am and 5pm to 10pm respectively,” the company said.