Power cuts are expected to continue till January after revelations that the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) is planning a shutdown of its Nkula A and Nkula B power plants for 12 days in January 2016 to carry out “extensive” repair works on machines at the plants during the period.
This information was made public during a meeting Escom organised in conjuction with the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) aimed at engaging Escom’s commercial customers, mainly manufacturing companies, on management of power supply by the parastatal
According to minutes of the meeting seen by The Daily Times, Escom plans to carry out extensive works at Nkula A and B extending over a period of 450 days from January 2016.
The works will be done in phases with a shutdown of Nkula A and B for 12 days in January 2016 which will see 124 megawatts being off the national grid.
The minutes also indicated that after 12 days, Nkula B will be restored bringing back 100 megawatts and losing 24 megawatts from Nkula A for 240 days.
After 240 days, Escom is expected to restore eight megawatts, with the remaining 16 to be restored after 450 days of maintenance works.
The minutes further indicate that during the 12 days of shutdown, Escom may only be able to supply six hours of power during the night.
According to the minutes, the exercise is aimed to extend the life of Nkula A by 30 years, increase capacity by 12 megawatts from 24 to 36 megawatts and improve generating efficiency.
However, the power utility body has outlined interventions to reduce the impact of the reduced power.
Among the interventions, it has included buying power from Mozambique and Zambia via Chipata/Mchinji targeting eight megawatts, Dedza/Villa Ulongwe will target three megawatts and Mandimba/Mangochi, five megawatts bringing together a total of 16 megawatts.
Escom also said diesel generators will be installed to reduce the impact, with Kanengo and Blantyre having 10 megawatts each while Mzuzu will generate six megawatts.
During the meeting Escom reported that power purchase agreements are already in place and that tariffs will not be affected.
The members of the industry, however, raised concern over reports of power shortages in Zambia but Escom was confident of getting full support from Zambia.
Escom also outlined some of the challenges it is facing, which include low water levels in Lake Malawi and Shire river, Mwera winds blowing north- easterly slows down water flow on Shire River and silt at intakes.
Escom has about 325,000 customers and 856 of these are large consumers contributing 44 percent to their revenue.
From the 856 customers, 14 percent are in the irrigation or water utility business, and they account for 40 percent of the revenue from the large consumers.