By SILUMESI MALUMO
GOVERNMENT has challenged Zesco to come up with a marshal plan to negotiate better electricity tariffs with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to have cost reflective tariffs.
Zesco is suffering heavy losses as a result of buying power from private producers at very high tariffs but supplying it cheaply, subsidising domestic customers leading to the company accruing more debt to banks and independent power producers.
The utility company buys power from IPPs at K1.98 to K2.86kWh and sells it to domestic consumers at K1.10/kWh, while the interim selling price to mining firms is K2.05/kWh.
Energy Minister, Mathew Nkhuwa, said the IPPs had assured Government that they were ready to negotiate with Zesco.
Mr Nkhuwa said he expected the Zesco management to constitute a team to start the negotiations
He said in an interview yesterday that he was shocked that Zesco had not started the process with the IPPs.
“These negotiations are not supposed to be done by Government but Zesco need to come with a team that will initiate the process to begin. As Government we did our part to engage the IPPs and they agreed after hearing our complaints over the high price of power.
“So the onus is on Zesco to ensure that the negotiations are done and are concluded on time because they are the ones who are affected,” Mr Nkhuwa said.
Mr Nkhuwa said it was high time Zesco did the right things instead of waiting for the government to take a centre stage.
“For us as Government we shall just be waiting to hear from Zesco about all what they are doing now. Zesco is expected to give us feedback so that we know whether what has been agreed upon is ok or not,” he said.
Millions of dollars are owed in debt to banks and IPPS such as Maamba Collieries Limited, Itezhi-tezhi Power Corporation, Ndola Energy Corporation Limited as well as Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Corporation, amongst others.