By Petronella Sibeene
Before announcing new electricity tariffs, the Electricity Control Board (ECB) has decided to institute a tariff increase and load-shedding survey.
ECB is likely to increase local power tariffs after Eskom in South Africa hinted a possible electricity tariff increase of around 53 percent to mitigate rising costs and demand.
The week-long survey will enable domestic customers to indicate whether they prefer high electricity tariffs or scheduled load-shedding over the next three years.
“The ECB firmly believes that by involving the public and getting their input, it will be possible to take a decision which has consumer buy-in and thereby encouraging all Namibians to work together in finding a solution to the energy crises,” Chief Executive Officer of the ECB, Siseho Simasiku, said.
Simasiku added that the regulatory body is currently reviewing NamPower’s tariff application. Areas of analysis include the implications of tariff increase and load-shedding on consumers and Namibia’s economy.
Simasiku said because of that the public should be involved in the process of finding alternative ways to alleviate the power shortage situation.
He warned that electricity tariffs in Namibia, like elsewhere in the region, are expected to go up by 40 percent in the next three years. He added that choosing load-shedding would not mean no usual tariff increases. It is only that they will be much lower than the anticipated increase in the near future.
Load-shedding, if the public so chooses, will last for about two hours and NamPower will announce a schedule of outages in advance.
The survey starts today and ends next Friday.
Domestic consumers of electricity can, at standard network rates, sms to 555 the word tariff if they prefer higher tariffs or load-shedding. Alternatively, the public can also visit the website under the address www.ecb.org.na and click their preference.
“In Namibia, the load during the peak hours is mainly caused by domestic consumers. Due to this, the ECB has decided to do a quick survey on how domestic consumers view load-shedding and high electricity tariff,” Simasiku said.
Electricity has become scarce in Southern Africa and any new or short-term emergency generation will be very expensive. Some countries in the region such as South Africa and Zambia have already increased their electricity tariffs. The same will take place in Namibia any time.
Other factors that cause electricity to be expensive in Namibia is that the country’s power generation facilities such as the Van Eck, with a capacity of 120 megawatts, are powered by coal. With high coal prices on the market, it has become expensive to run the power station. It costs close to one million Namibian dollars to run the station for 24 hours.
Paratus, with a capacity of 24 megawatts, is run by diesel and fuel prices remain volatile on the international markets.
NamPower does not have a firm schedule to buy electricity from Eskom but buys on emergency market at a higher price.
“All these factors will contribute to increases in the price of electricity, not only in Namibia but in the whole Southern African region,” Simasiku said.
The national power utility is considering buying emergency diesel generators that could be installed in less than a year. This could be done to avoid electricity shortages in the country.
The increasing cost of diesel and the recent weakening of rand/Namibian dollar against the US dollar make emergency diesel gene-rators a very expensive option.
“However, it is the best option for emergency purposes, that is, short installation time,” Simasiku said.