One of the upsides of the lockdown situation has been and still is uninterrupted power supply. For those who had become accustomed to load shedding, the lockdown has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise. It is ironic though given how most people still struggle to afford electricity and other basics. When ZESA introduced the stepped tariffs structure last year their thrust to curtail excessive use of power. True to their quest most people have toned down their use of electricity. It is now commonplace to see smoke trails in most neighbourhoods. This stems from people resorting to using wood fire for cooking since they cannot afford both electricity and LP gas. Anyways, my focus herein is the recent electricity tariff reviews.

The Old Tariff Structure

For a while the tariff structure stood as follows: the first 50 units were costing ZWL$0.49 per unit. The next 51 units to 200 units were costing ZWL$1.08 per unit. Anything from the next 201+ units was costing ZWL$4.61 per unit. This meant that the first 50 units needed ZWL$24.50. The next 150 units needed ZWL$162. This effectively meant that the first 200 units needed ZWL$186.50. Here is the summary:

First 50 units – ZWL$24.50

Next 150 units – ZWL$162

The New Tariff Structure

ZESA has reviewed tariffs by the addition of a fourth category. The categories all along were the first 50 units, the next 150 units and 201+ units. The new tariff structure has categories as follows: the first 50 units, the next 150 units, the next 100 units and 301+ units. The unit prices are as follows: the first 50 units still cost ZWL$0.49, the next 150 units still cost ZWL$1.08 per unit. The next 100 units i.e. 201 units to 300 units cost ZWL$2.94 per unit and 301+ units cost ZWL$4.61 per unit. Here is the summary:

First 50 units – ZWL$24.50

Next 150 units – ZWL$162

Next 100 units – ZWL$294

This effectively makes the first 300 units cost ZWL$480.50. To give you some perspective let me do a comparative analysis. Using the old tariff structure, you would have needed ZWL$647.50 for the first 300 units. Thus, your first 300 units are now ZWL$167 cheaper.

The Implications Of This New Tariff Structure

There are two major implications that I can highlight here. One, nothing has changed for those who have been effectively using electricity falling within the first 200 units per month. It is going to cost them the same as the unit prices for that range remain unchanged. Two, those who have been exceeding 200 units will have some sort of relief. The thing is, the next 100 units after the first 200 units were costing ZWL$461 under the old tariff structure. They now cost ZWL$294 – a ZWL$167 difference. It is not much though but it is at least something.

This can be an incentive for those who have been exceeding 200 units to try and not exceed 300 units. It is a long shot though because most of those who are exceeding 200 units still fail to not exceed 300 units.

Some Clarity Again…

I have extensively talked about this before but let me talk about it again. Electricity is not cheaper on the first or the first few days of the month. It is also not the case that you have to buy the first 200 units at once for them to be cheaper. This is all borne out of misconceptions and misinformation. What is cheaper is the purchase of your first 200 units in a month. This holds whether you buy the 200 units at once or in bits and pieces. It also holds despite the time you purchase the first 200 units. The key question is: is it the first 200 units of that month? If so, it is the cheapest you will ever get. With the new category added (201 units to 300 units costing ZWL2.94 per unit) it means your first 300 units are now the cheapest.

Let me also share with you some important resources for your benefit. You can use the ZESA Self Service Portal to pay your electricity bills, to access your electricity account online, and access the prepayment units calculator amongst other things. You can access the ZESA Self Service Portal here. For those of you who encounter difficulties buying electricity using EcoCash directly, you can use the following alternatives: Paynow, Magetsi, Ownai and Telpay.