THE Energy Regulation Board says it will start penalising mining companies and other large-scale power consumers who are keeping more power than they need.
Currently, Zesco and Copperbelt Energy Corporation have scaled down power supply to the mining sector by 30 per cent, resulting in most mining houses reducing production and laying off workers.
In a statement, ERB stated that it was appealing to mining companies to implement demand side management initiatives to help free up power in the wake of enhanced load-shedding.
According to ERB, some large-scale power consumers were allocated more power than they needed and the surplus was being held on standby.
Following the announcement by Zesco that generation at Kariba North Bank Power Station has dropped to 305 megawatts, ERB says it was critical that all categories of energy consumers make tangible efforts to minimise pressure on the national grid.
“The implementation of demand side management, if practiced by large power users, could greatly reduce load shedding,” ERB stated. “Demand side management is the management and efficient use of power which, when practiced on a large scale in sectors such as mining, industry and commercial farms, can have a significant impact that can free huge amounts of power for other uses. The regulator is aware that the power system has been unstable as a result of increased reactive power use by large power users.”
ERB stated that it expected large power users to install reactive power compensating equipment to be energy efficient and avoid low power factor, which has an adverse impact on the system.
“The grace period before the surcharge takes effect is meant to allow affected customers to install the necessary equipment to improve the power factor at the affected customer’s premises,” it stated. “Zesco is presently sending its large power customers dummy bills as a way of preparing for actual implementation come January 1, 2016.”
Meanwhile, the ERB has urged business houses and offices throughout the country to switch off lights on a daily basis at the close of business and leave a few security lights on.
“Regrettably, at household level, the regulator has also observed that security lights are left on during the day when consumers should be conserving the limited power available,” stated ERB. “Geysers, pressing irons and electric stoves should be used sparingly when power is restored after load-shedding.”