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Blame it on winter

BPC allay fears on the cost of electricity

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Blame it on winter
NO WORRIES: BPC CEO Dr. Stefan Schwarzfischer

There has been an outcry from electricity users across the country following an upsurge in ‘motlakase’ costs in the last three months.

For most ordinary users, the 200kwh determined to be the average monthly usage for ‘low income’ households is suddenly not enough to last until the next pay day, while for others consumption has almost doubled.

This, however, is nothing out of the ordinary, according to Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) CEO Dr. Stefan Schwarzfischer.

Responding to a questionnaire sent to him, the CEO revealed the electricity tariffs were increased by 10% across all customer categories effective 1st April 2018.

It is the second time in as many years BPC have increased the charges on power, following a 7.5% increase in April 2017 on households consuming up to 200kwh a month (those consuming more than 200kwh were subject to a 10% increase).

“Subsequent to the increase, there has been no other tariff increase,” stressed the German national, who was appointed BPC CEO in October 2016.

He insisted there’s a logical reason why even the latest tariff adjustments were suddenly being felt more in recent months.

“In particular, the electricity consumption in June and July 2018 has been high in response to the cold spell experienced this winter,” he explained, adding customers consume more electricity during winter for space and water heating.

“The energy demand for April 2018 was 297,643,000kwh and June 317,639,000kwh, showing an increase of approximately 7%,” highlighted Dr Schwarzfischer.

He further said there are measures in place to reduce the burden of tariffs adjustments on low usage households through a substantial tariff relief subsidy for all customers.

“Low usage households enjoy a further subsidy through the two tiered/stepped tariff which has the lowest charge for usage not exceeding 200kwh per month,” he said.

The current low usage tariff is 82 thebe per kwh, inclusive of 12% Value Added Tax and 5 thebe Government National Electricity Standard Cost (NESC) Levy.

According to Schwarzfischer this low usage tariff is 36% lower than the high income domestic users who pay P1.12 for usage above 200kwh per month.

However, while there’s been no direct link established between the two, the worrying cost of electricity coincided with the increase of imported electricity due to operational challenges at the Morupule B Power Station.

According to the Electricity Generation and Distribution Report for Q1 2018, the volume of imported electricity increased by 46.7% (88 218 MWH) from 189 052 MWH during the first quarter of 2018.

The report further states that Botswana imported 28.9% (277 270 MWH) of total electricity distributed.

Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), South Africa’s Eskom and Namibia Power Corporation are the main sources of imported electricity at 85.2, 12.4 and 2.5% respectively.