Zimbabwe warns of power cuts as dam levels fall

Zimbabweans have been warned to switch off all non-essential electricity load as the state-owned power utility warned it may ration electricity supplies as low water levels reduce output from its biggest hydro plant.

“Low rainfall season for the year 2018 and 2019 has led to low water inflows into Lake Kariba,” Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) said in a statement.

The statement further said that the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) had reduced water allocation to Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) from 19 billion cubic meters to 16 cubic meters for 2019.

The warning came late Thursday as Zimbabwe enters its peak winter power demand season, ZETDC said this was in the interest of maintaining a balance between the supply of power available and demand.

“In the event that this supply and demand equilibrium is not maintained, the power utility would have no choice but to curtail some loads to restore grid stability,” it said.

Kariba Power Station, which is already operating at half capacity, will reduce generation further to 358 MW from 542 MW, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) said in a statement, as drought reduces water levels at the dam that feeds the plant.

Some residents in the capital Harare reported that they had already been experiencing power cuts, known locally as load shedding, since the beginning of this week.