Elec­tric­ity tar­iffs re­lief for cus­tomers

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

ELEC­TRIC­ITY tar­iff in­creases in the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year that had been pegged at 23,6 per­cent, are now likely to be re­viewed down­wards, the newly ap­pointed Le­sotho Elec­tric­ity Com­pany (LEC) man- ag­ing di­rec­tor, Thabo Nkhahle, has said.

Mr Nkhahle re­vealed this in an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times this week. He said the down­ward re­vi­sion was made pos­si­ble by sav­ings the power util­ity ex­pected to make af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing a new deal to im­port elec­tric­ity from the Mozam­bi­can com­pany, Elec- tri­ci­dade de Mo­cam­bique (EDM) at a re­duced price.

For 10 years, EDM has been sup­ply­ing elec­tric­ity to LEC but was on the verge of los­ing the deal as the lo­cal util­ity was forced to re­view the cost of M1.42 in com­par­i­son with Eskom’s M0.94 per unit.

How­ever, the Mozam­bi­can power util­ity agreed, early this month, to re­duce the price of elec­tric­ity to M0.89 per unit, the low­est that LEC has ever paid.

Mr Nkhahle said they had re­sisted im­ple­ment­ing a 50 per­cent tar­iff in­crease rec­om­mended by the Le­sotho Elec­tric­ity and Wa­ter Author­ity (LEWA) and the African De­vel­op­ment Bank in or­der to cush­ion cus­tomers.

“The study ac­tu­ally blamed LEC of charg­ing less,” Mr Nkhahle said.

Mr Nkhahle’s state­ment comes when con­sumers have been lament­ing over the Lewa sub­mis­sions.

“We are buy­ing be­tween 10 and 30 MW from Mozam­bique which cov­ers about 22% of LEC’S to­tal de­mand of 156 MW. LEC pro­posed bud­get to LEWA was done be­fore ac­quir­ing re­duced power deal from Mozam­bique,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Nkhahle, the LEC failed to com­ply with all as­pects of their util­ity li­cense with LEWA and com­ing up with fresh ideas for job cre­ation.

“Out of elec­tric­ity, LEC should make sure that it doesn’t only sup­ply elec­tric­ity for light­ing only but be proac­tive and use it for in­no­va­tion,” Mr Nkhahle said.

LEC buys 72 Megawatts of elec­tric­ity from Le­sotho High­lands De­vel­op­ment Author­ity’s ‘Muela Hy­dro-power Sta­tion but, how­ever, meets its 156 MW obli­ga­tion with ad­di­tional im­ports from South Africa’s Eskom and Elec­t­ri­ci­dade de Mo­cam­bique through 132kv and 88kv net­works re­spec­tively

For Qacha’s Nek, the only dis­trict that is not yet con­nected to the na­tional grid, LEC pur­chases elec­tric­ity from Eskom through a 22kv line from Matatiele in South Africa.

Mr Nkhahle said his vi­sion was cut for­eign ex­pen­di­ture by gen­er­at­ing power in Le­sotho and added that this would go a long way in boost­ing in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments while at the same time al­low­ing the coun­try to ex­port.

He said there were up-to-date projects that were al­ready in the pipe­line.

“The projects in ques­tion for ex­am­ple are go­ing to ad­dress is­sues of af­ford­abil­ity. Elec­tric­ity will be charged ac­cord­ing to life stan­dards, the higher the life stan­dard the higher the elec­tric­ity tar­iff, the lower the life stan­dard the lower the elec­tric­ity tar­iff,” he said.

Mr Nkhahle said the elec­tric­ity com­pany was mov­ing to set in mo­tion the process for the re­view of old in­fra­struc­ture to avoid un­nec­es­sary elec­tric­ity cuts dur­ing stormy and rainy weather.

“Our in­fra­struc­ture is very old and poor so much that our sup­ply of elec­tric­ity to cus­tomers seems weak. We have to re­vamp the whole in­fra­struc­ture and up­grade. For ex­am­ple, in­su­la­tors on our ex­ter­nal elec­tri­cal sys­tem (ca­bling), crack when it is very hot, now, when it rains the wa­ter en­ters and causes se­ri­ous dam­age.

“We still have to get the best tech­nol­ogy in the mar­ket that can help us over­come this prob­lem,” he said.

Mr Nkhahle said the com­pany was bur­dened with so many mod­ernised and rel­e­vant poli­cies which have not been ap­proved by the board be­cause of the po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity that hit Le­sotho in re­cent years.

“Re­mem­ber each time gov­ern­ment changes, boards do change also. There is a huge bur­den of these poli­cies that have not been ap­proved and I be­lieve that this time, the board will look into those of ur­gency and ap­prove them as soon as pos­si­ble so that we can start im­prov­ing our in­fra­struc­ture for good ser­vice de­liv­ery,” he said.

Mr Nkhahle said he in­tended to im­prove re­la­tions be­tween LEC and LEWA for col­lab­o­ra­tion to­wards bet­ter ser­vice de­liv­ery and af­ford­abil­ity.

LEC newly ap­pointed Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Thabo Nkhahle.

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