The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has expressed concern at the under-utilisation of power from some of its Solar energy projects across the country.
The Authority says it is concerned that the targeted communities are not fully utilising its infrastructure constructed at great costs.
REA Board Chairperson Likonge Mulenga made the remarks when she led her Board Members on a tour of the Kabamba Solar Mini Grid in Serenje Town, Central province.
Ms Mulenga says her Board is not pleased that the Solar plant , which is currently generating 30kw, has only connected a kilowatt load to the community since it was constructed a year ago.
“This facility is not utilised to the capacity it’s supposed to. There is barely less than 1 kw over load connected. ..its below 10 per cent utilisation ” said Ms Mulenga.
The REA Board Chairperson said under normal circumstances about 50 houses should have been connected.
There is need to escalate connection of domestic and commercial clients in order for people to access electricity and appreciate government efforts.
On this score, REA management has been directed to ensure that more connections are made in the next one month.
Ms Mulenga said REA will have to engage stakeholders such as ministries of education health and justice on the need to connect their facilities to power to improve service delivery.
She regretted that only 10 connections from the 30 kw power plant has been utilised which under normal circumstances can connect up to 50 houses.
“It’s not giving the benefit it’s supposed to give. Our mandate is to reach to people who are not connected to power and very far away from the grid” said Ms Mulenga.
She said there is need for enhanced value addition to solar energy services.
And to address the concern , REA Chief Executive Officer Linus Chanda said his management team will review the situation and ensure that corrective measures to increase connections in the area.
“We can’t put up an installation like this and have such small connections. Obviously we have to do some internal clean up and come back here and do what we have been asked to do”, said Mr Chanda.
And Kabamba Rural Health Centre Acting sister in charge Cleopatra Mutalimpula said the Solar power has made a difference in the operations of the clinic.
“From the time they ( REA) put this powering system, we are really benefiting very much especially for maternity cases in the night, casualty cases, due to adequate light” said Ms Mutalimpula
The Kabamba Solar Mini Grid was constructed at a cost of K1.6 million with funds from the Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre and the Rural Electrification Authority at 60-40 cost sharing.
Ministry of Energy minister Peter Kapala commissioned the Solar project on 4 November 2021.
And Acting Serenje District Commissioner Kennedy Pezo appealed to REA to ensure that the stalled 200 Kw Chipota Solar Mini Grid is completed.
Mr Pezo said the Solar power plant once completed has the potential to generate about 15,000 of power.
And REA CEO Linus Chanda assured the District Commissioner that the two Members of Parliament from the district are being consulted to find a lasting solution that will benefit the people.