Luthando Mapepa Chipinge Correspondent
Kupinga Mini Hydro Power Station in Chipinge has started generating electricity in a development expected to ease power shortages.
The establishment of the plant, which is located in the Rusitu River catchment area in Ward Six at the boundary of Chipinge and Chimanimani districts, is expected to reduce power imports.
The station started generating electricity last month.
The power station is now operating at 92 percent capacity and generating 1 400 kilowatts.
Zimbabwe Energy Regulating Authority (Zera) issued a 25-year licence to Kupinga Private Limited for the power station in 2014 in terms of Section 42 of the Energy Act.
The company is still putting finishing touches on the plant which is expected to generate 1 650 kilowatts on completion later this year.
The operations manager Engineer Michael Cain said Kupinga was determined to produce more electricity.
He said despite siltation challenges faced by the station, his company was increasing electricity generation by the day.
“When we started operating last month, siltation problems temporarily affected our operations, as water levels had suddenly become low. We then approached the local leadership who assisted us by moving villagers who were farming along Rusitu River,” said Eng Cain.
“The situation is now under control, as water is flowing again. The plant has a capacity to produce more electricity when water levels are high.
“During the rainy season we should produce more electricity compared to other period. There is need to deal with siltation for the survival of the project,” said Eng Cain.
A total of 44 locals have been recruited since the inception of the project.
Chipinge Rural District Council chairperson, Councillor Phenious Muzamana said the Kupinga mini-hydro power station would ease power importation bills, as it fed into the national grid.
Cllr Muzamana appealed to potential investors to establish more projects similar to Kupinga as the area had many places where such projects could be sited.
“While the country is grappling with efforts to produce enough electricity, small power plants can improve the situation and reduce power importation,” said Cllr Muzamana.
“We welcome prospective financiers to invest here as we have many sites similar to that of Kupinga. As the local authority, we will jealously guard this project and make sure that we deal with adverse factors such as siltation.
“Apart from feeding into the national grid, the establishment of the plant has created employment for people in the area,” said Cllr Muzamana.
The project was initially supposed to be commissioned in the mid 70s to feed into the Mutare to Chipinge line, but was later abandoned.