Power utility Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) says it is faced with insufficient generation capacity and has warned consumers to brace for frequent and prolonged load shedding “within the foreseeable future”.
However, Escom’s announcement has irked the business community with Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) saying the planned load shedding has serious implications on the economy.
MCCCI president Newton Kambala said in an interview yesterday Escom should have briefed the business community about its plan before going ahead with implementation.
In a statement seen by The Nation, Escom has attributed the situation to reduced water levels in Lake Malawi and its sole outlet Shire River, the major sources of water for hydro electricity generation in the country. Besides, Escom has also mentioned existing insufficient electricity generation and transmission capacities as other factors.
Escom says the low water levels situation is a reality and not reversible at the moment and likely to worsen in the next four to five months.
Reads in part the Escom statement: “The current water flow in the Shire as measured at Liwonde Barrage is 214 cubic metres per second [cumecs] against the total required discharge of 261 cumecs at Nkula, 274 cumecs at Tedzani and 268 cumecs at Kapichira hydro power stations if all machines are running at full capacities.
“Projections are that the trend will continue to worsen to the end of the dry season at the onset of rains later in the year.”
Escom said if the power stations are to run at full capacity in the current scenario, it will mean fast depletion of water storage levels, a situation the utility provider has said is not desirable for sustained operations.
Escom was yet to respond to a questionnaire from The Nation on the lack of communication to consumers and the business community, among other issues.
Earlier this year, heavy rains that caused flooding, brought with them debris and silt that clogged Escom’s intake ponds and machines, forcing the power utility to shut seven of the eight machines at Nkula Hydro Power Station. The damage took away 116 megawatts (MW) from the national grid.
Escom has a total generating capacity of 351MW against a suppressed demand of 350MW.