22 February 2013

Mozambique: Floods - HCB Losing 10 Million Dollars a Month

Maputo — Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), the company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi River, is losing 10 million US dollars a month, because of the damage done by flooding to the transmission lines carrying power to HCB’s main client, the South African electricity company Eskom.

There are two transmission lines running from Cahora Bassa to South Africa, and one of them was knocked out on 21 January by torrential rains in the Pafuri region and the subsequent sharp rise in the level of the Limpopo.

The force of the Limpopo flood knocked down one pylon on HCB’s “Line Two”, and when this pylon fell, it dragged four others after it. All power supplies from Cahora Bassa to Eskom were then transmitted along “Line One”, and by what HCB calls “alternative routes” (presumably via Zimbabwe).

But these lines could not carry the full 1,300 megawatts that Eskom normally receives. HCB was forced to cut its exports to South Africa by 35 per cent.

An HCB release on the company’s website warns that the work to replace the fallen pylons will only be complete on 17 March. Only then will the flow of power from HCB to Eskom be fully restored.

HCB says that one factor complicating work on the transmission lines is the possible presence of anti-personnel land mines. Mines were placed around pylons during the war of destabilisation, and it is feared that the floods may have moved the mines.

Until the area is known to be free of mines, it will not be possible to restore the pylons.

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