New electricity transmission rules in Zimbabwe

Posted in Power Infrastructure Southern Africa

An updated Electricity Grid Code has been issued by the Government of Zimbabwe. This is long awaited by developers of generation projects in the country and their lenders, as its 102 pages ( short by the standards of some countries but comprehensive nonetheless) include detailed provisions for connection to the grid and despatch procedures. Overall, the new Grid Code brings greater clarity to the roles and responsibilities within the power sector in Zimbabwe.

The Grid Code document is sub-divided into the following sections:

  1. a Governance Code;
  2. a Connection Code defining connection conditions for generators, distributors and directly connected end-use customers with third party access rights;
  3. a Performance Standards Code;
  4. a Network Planning Code;
  5. a Scheduling and Dispatching Code defining the scheduling of generators’ output and its dispatch to distributors and directly connected end-use customers;
  6. a Systems Operations Code;
  7. a Metering Code specifying the requirements for tariff metering;
  8. a Protection Code; and
  9. an Information Exchange Code.

The Grid Code has been brought into force by regulations issued by way of Statutory Instrument 91 of 2017 pursuant to sections 58(3) and 65 of the Electricity Act [Chapter 13:19] and was formally gazetted on 11th August 2017.

A Grid Code was first issued in 2006 and subsequently revised in 2013. The Government’s intention with this updated version is to set clearer guidelines to regulate the country’s growing electricity industry and to facilitate use of the national transmission grid.  Currently, the largest generator in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), a subsidiary of the state-owned ZESA Holdings, but in 2002 the Government liberalised the electricity industry by allowing private entities to participate in the generation and distribution of electricity through the Electricity Act (Chapter 13: 19) (Number 4 of 2002) and the Electricity Amendment Act of 2003. The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA), has licensed close to 30 independent power producers with about five of them producing electricity at the moment.

Under the regulations, ZERA is the administrative authority for the Grid Code. ZERA is expected to constitute a Grid Code Review Panel to ensure that a consultative stakeholder process is followed in the formulation and review of the code. The composition of the review panel will include two members representing the transmission company, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), one member representing independent transmission operators, one member from ZPC and one member representing  Independent Power Producers. ZERA will also have its representative on the panel, which will also have two members representing large end users directly connected to the national grid. The review panel will handle disputes regarding the interpretation of the Grid Code.

Clarification of the rules for the use of the Zimbabwe transmission network is not only important for the domestic power sector. Zimbabwe is also a key component of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) network and further detailing of the rules within Zimbabwe can only help facilitate SAPP’s ambitious plans for increasing cross-border transmission activity.

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