The Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) Dr Stefan Schwarzfischer, was on Thursday evening all smiles when hosting journalists to a cocktail dinner where he declared that the parastatal has turned the corner and is now on the way to profitability.
Almost declaring load shedding a thing of the past, Dr Schwarzfischer said that two units at Morupule B Power station are operational producing 260 MW of electricity. “The fourth unit is undergoing scheduled remediation for the next 12 months. The average national demand during the day is 400 MW,” he said, adding that until the third unit returns to service, power deficits are covered by emergency diesel power plants, the SAPP market or by Eskom.
Regarding Morupule A Power plant, Dr Schwarzfischer said it is currently undergoing safety checks before being returned to commercial operation and that the exercise will be concluded in May 2019. The presentation by BPC boss was in contradiction to what the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale had told the nation two days earlier regarding the state of Morupule A and B power plants. On Tuesday Molale told journalists that only one unit is working at Morupule B Power plant producing 163 MW of electricity while all units at Morupule A are not working.
Asked about the conflicting statements from him and his political principal, Dr Schwarzfischer said he could only account of what he said and that he knows is the truth.
The BPC CEO said the rural electrification project is progressing well as they have managed to electrify 83.6% of villages and that they recently connected 15 villages to the grid and extended the grid in 45 villages at an approximate cost of P202 million. “BPC is currently connecting 41 new villages to the grid and extending the grid in 72 villages at an approximate cost of P305 million,” he revealed.
Dr. Schwarzfischer further said for the first time in 11 years the corporation is making operational profit. In October 2017 BPC made a loss of -6% of operational without subsidy while this year they made 2% operating profit without subsidy.
Dr Schwarzfischer said the tender for the 12 Grid Tied Solar Power Plant on an Independent Power Producer (IPP) basis has been published on Friday 23rd November 2018. “BPC will facilitate the procurement process on behalf of its parent ministry and Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA),” he revealed.
He said BPC wants to provide more electricity connections to Botswana to cover the whole country within the next few years. He dismissed claims that Botswana could experience debilitating load shedding episodes, saying BPC should rather focus on reducing faults and power outages, and improve turnaround time on customer complaints. “BPC needs to establish a program to connect customers faster and at reduced cost,” he said, adding that they need to shift their future investments and capacities from generation to distribution.
According to Dr Schwarzfischer, BPC has reduced the time to connect household customers by 70% in the last 9 months. Regarding the bulk supply customers (capital works), he said that they have reduced the connection time by 71% in the last nine months.