* Due to the works at Nkula A and B, by EGENCO, ESCOM will have only 115 megawatts (MW) of power available
* Which will be prioritized to supply essential loads such as central referral hospitals and water boards
By Duncan Mlanjira
As Energy Generation Company (EGENCO) continues with its maintenance works at Nkula A and B Power stations every Sunday until the end of this month of October, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) reminds customers of another prolonged loadshedding on Sunday.
Due to the works at Nkula A and B, ESCOM will have only 115 megawatts (MW) of power available which will be prioritized to supply essential loads such as central referral hospitals and water boards in all the regions.
A communication from ESCOM management says all domestic customers will be subjected to an average of 14 hours loadshedding while the load shedding duration for industrial customers will be 19 hours.
Specifically, three loadshedding groups A, B and C for domestic customers will be maintained whereas industrial feeders will be grouped into two groups — D and E.
“During the outage, all five groups will have no supply from 5.00am to 5.00pm [and] customers are advised to switch off electrical appliances during the stated period as power supply may be restored earlier than anticipated.
“Furthermore, we urge our customers to switch off lights in unoccupied rooms and idle electrical appliances to conserve energy.”
A report by Capital FM Radio Station quotes EGENCO as saying at least 15 new intake screens have been installed at Nkula power station.
The radio reported that a team of engineers, divers, welders and other support staff from all of EGENCO power stations carries out the maintenance works, between 07:00hrs-16:19hrs on Sundays.
The power challenges being faced are due to loss of 130MW at Kapichira Hydro Power Station, whose dam and other equipment were damaged in January due to Cyclone Ana and currently EGENCO has intensifies rehabilitation works.
In August, a joint Parliamentary Committee, that was constituted to get to the bottom cause of the national power shutdowns, went on fact-finding mission by physically visiting Kapichira, Nkula, Tedzani and at the diesel generation plant at Mapanga along Zomba Road.
Before the visit, the joint committee comprises natural resources & climate change; trade, industry & tourism; legal affairs and public appointments, which had earlier summoned heads of Electricity Supply Corporation (ESCOM); Energy Generation Company (EGENCO); Power Market Limited (PML); Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) and Ministry of Energy at Parliament.
This also followed a hot press conference that Ministries of Energy and Information held last week that was also attended by chief executive officers of ESCOM, Kamkwamba Kumwenda; EGENCO’s William Liabunya and PML’s Rosemary Mkandawire — where Matola accused the previous administration of plunging the electricity utility companies into the current mess which has led the utility companies failing to provide adequate electricity.
At Kapichira, the joint Parliamentary Committee was assured by EGENCO management of their efforts to restore its Dam and were taken on tour of works being done of drenching the sand that the floods gathered so that they could divert flow of water to the intake to start the process of building a cofferdam
The cofferdam will serve two purposes — to allow EGENCO to partially fill the reservoir and resume generation of power and for neighbouring Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP) to continue construction of its own intake of the Shire Valley irrigation project.
The MP’s were taken through the process of restoration by EGENCO’s project manager, Harry Msosa, who emphasized that it will be done in two phases; — to temporarily construct the cofferdam around mouth of the damaged fuse plug (an emergency spillway) and as soon as power generation is restored, to reconstruct the whole dam structure with an improved design.
He said this is under ‘Build Back Better’ for a resilient dam that should withstand the frequent floods the country is experiencing as a result of climate change and catchment area degradation.
Meanwhile, a report from the committee is yet to be made public. The committee was constituted after observing that the industry players, ESCOM, EGENCO; PML; MERA and Ministry of Energy, were blaming each other for the national economic and social crisis.
At the press briefing in Lilongwe on Thursday, Energy Minister Ibrahim Matola singled out politicians that they force the utility companies to misprocure and by-pass laws governing the operations of the companies.
Matola also said the previous government was wasting resources for the companies by using their assets such as vehicles to ferry party supporters to political rallies and drawing free fuel from other power producers hired by government such as Agrekko.