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Mera approves 3 power deals

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The Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) has said it has approved three power purchasing agreements which could help bring additional power into the national grid.

Mera Chief Executive Officer, Collins Magalasi, said Tuesday the agreements are between Escom and Aggreko (78 megawatts), Escom and HE Power (41 MW) and Malawi and Zambia (20 MW).

Magalasi said the power from Aggreko diesel generators was already launched, adding that power from the other agreements is expected in the short to medium term.

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The Mera chief said Escom officials are already at advanced stage with preparations regarding tapping of electricity from Chipata, Zambia.

“We should have this power in the next three months,” Magalasi said.

He added that Malawi a n s should expect the 41 MW power from HE Power which is constructing a hydroelectric power, plant on Bua River, in the next two and a half to three years.

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According to Magalasi, the energy authority is also waiting for the finalisation of a power purchase agreement between Escom and the Energy Generation Company (Egenco) in addition to three others between Escom a n d solar power producers.

“What happens is that we, at Mera, are a final authority in this initiative. Once Escom and the independent power producers agree, they come to us for final approval. Once we approve everything, implementation of the projects may go ahead,” Magalasi said.

Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Chief Executive Officer, Chancellor Kaferapanjira, recently urged Mera to act free from undue influence from both government and investors when approving t h e power purchase agreements.

Kaferapanjira said government gets political pressures from various constituencies and may want to influence some aspects of the market.

He said now that the market is open and IPPs are allowed to produce electricity and sell to Escom, as a single buyer, the IPPs may want high tariffs in order to commit to long-term investments.

“Mera should neither allow government to meddle in its decisions nor permit investors to charge exorbitantly high tariffs in order to recoup their investments quickly and make high returns,” Kaferapanjira said.

President Peter Mutharika recently indicated that Capital Hill has lined up a number medium—to long—term energy projects to help avoid a repeat of the 2017 electricity crisis.

Mutharika said, among others, government is pursuing a coal— fired power project at Kammwamba, which is expected to add an extra 300MW to the grid.

Other energy projects, according to Mutharika, include th 170MW Lower Fufu project to be commissioned by 2021; 200MW hydro power plant at Kholombizo on the Shire River to be commissioned by 2022; and a 350MW plant at Mpatamanga also on the Shire River to be commissioned by 2021.

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