GREENDALE residents who have proposed that they pay higher electricity tariffs so that they are guaranteed uninterrupted supply of power say their move is justified because of a number of factors which include the fact that power utility ZESA Holdings is not able to generate adequate electricity and has to rely on imports to supplement power generated locally.
Diana Nherera Suburban Reporter
The residents say the only option is for them to pay a cost effective tariff to ensure ZESA supplies them with electricity without having to suffer load shedding.
“Considering that the power producers are failing to generate enough power then the only option is to import it.
“I believe our current tariff is about US 11cents per kwh where research indicates that in our (SADC) region, on average it costs 18 cents to produce and incidentally it’s 42 cents to run a generator.
“It’s clear why we don’t have enough power.
“It’s similar to the fuel crisis where we had long queues for fuel merely because we weren’t allowed to pay the realistic price for fuel.
“ As soon as pricing became reflective of cost and currency requirements, those queues disappeared and here we are.
“Anyway, It’s the odd $0,07 that we are talking about.
“Some say Government should pay that but others are more pragmatic.
“Look, if a household voluntarily pays the higher rate to get constant power supply, they improve on their quality of life and productivity.
“They have the option of reducing their consumption so that their monthly payment for power remains the same.
“Instead of an imposed load shedding, they can reduce consumption at their own convenience to meet their budget,” said Mr Brian Shenje one of the residents prepared to pay a higher tariff to ensure constant power supply.
Mr Shenje said the residents can also employ power saving measures to keep their electricity bills down such as substituting electric geysers with solar geysers and putting timers on pool pumps.
“Switching from an electric geyser to a solar one, a 40 percent reduction in power consumption accomplishes this. Putting timers on pool pumps, swapping booster pumps for tank stands, installing solar security lights and so forth – these are realistic solutions for many in our community,” he argued.
Mr Shenje said at a recent meeting residents held with ZESA officials, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) management informed them that technically and in principle, the proposed pilot programme is something that they could do and that he would support it if at least 80 percent of the community voluntarily agreed to participate in the programme.
He said in an initial poll of users on the Shaneragh Road transformer 97.6 percent of respondents indicated they would be happy to pay a higher tariff of $0,17 if they would be guaranteed electricity without load shedding.
“Further 97.7 percent of the respondents indicated that they would be happy to pay a tariff in United States dollars if it guaranteed them power supply,” said Mr Shenje.
He said these findings gave ZETDC and Government alternative options to power issues. Like many new things or schemes, Mr Shenje said there will be some criticism because there are those who are decidedly pro-subsidy.
But his view is that subsidies should not be so broad but should only benefit the needy.
“If 80 percent voluntarily agree to pay a higher rate then the remaining 20 percent allowance would ensure that the vulnerable within the community would continue to pay the gazetted tariff whilst getting the improved supply too.
“In this way it is kept from being an elitist programme and those deserving it get the necessary subsidy and better quality of life. Can this programme work everywhere? Probably not, but where it can, it will help Government so that they have fewer areas to deal with,” said Mr Shenje.
He said there is talk that ZETDC had already requested an increase in the tariff and that it was only practical that they do so.
He said he didn’t know how the supply improvement would be achieved exactly.
“We are just trying to get ahead of our problems,” said Mr Shenje, adding the scheme might be seen as a direct importation programme.
“What I do know is if you look at a place like Khaya (formerly Lafarge Cement), who are also in our community, they’re able to get more or less constant power supply through a dedicated feed. It seems to be a matter of fees and tariffs.
“There is nothing new being proposed here – we are just asking them to see how it works in the residential setting and after the pilot to see how many more people’s lives may be improved.
‘‘The final findings may be different to the proposal, that’s the point of the pilot programme.
“Now, we are at the bureaucratic stage where things usually slow down a bit. They have said they would need to send our proposal through their structure and committees,” said Mr Shenje.
On sustainability, he said: “We’ve got a local ZEDTC interface WhatsApp group which has a lot of the senior people interfacing with a small number of residents from different neighbourhoods within Ward 9. This is not just about complaining but the group is there to work on things like this and keep the communication lines open. It’s working for us.”