By J. MWAMUNYANGE Posted Monday, May 16 2011 at 00:00 As Tanzania returns to the dark ages, The EastAfrican has learnt that the route being taken by the government to import a 260MW emergency power plant could put electricity out of the reach of most ordinary Tanzanians. The government is said to have put out a tender for the supply on hire of generators. "What should have been of priority is to use what is locally available, including the IPTL plant, because the plant is currently generating only 10MW out of the installed 100MW capacity," said a source. "It makes economic sense to expand generation at the IPTL plant, which would also mitigate the ongoing power rationing. The capacity charges at IPTL are known thus it is easier to plan than to rush for emergency plants, which would in the end prove very costly," the source added. The IPTL plant can generate 50 per cent of its installed capacity, paying $3 million every month as capacity charges in addition to the cost of the power generated. However, bringing in the emergency generators would mean coughing up some Tsh60 billion ($40 million) every month to run the plant. "In a nutshell, Tanzanians must prepare themselves for expensive power once the hired generators are installed," said the source. The EastAfrican was also told that the current arrangement whereby Songas operates extraction of gas, transportation and generation of power was disadvantageous to the country. "It would have been better to have different companies operating at these stages, as was evidenced by the recent announcement by Songas that it would be closing the plant for maintenance works. This left Tanesco with no option but to effect loadshedding for as long as 15 hours." The National Social Security Fund has put in a request to the government to build another gas pipeline to Dar es Salaam for the generation of power and other uses. However, the government is yet to respond not only to this submission but another one, whereby the Fund wants to go into power generation by bringing in turbines to generate electricity using locally sourced gas. Experts argue that it would be cheaper to purchase power generation units than to hire them because this would add another burden on Tanesco, which pays over $7 million every month to IPTL and Songas. On May 28, 2010, Tanesco applied for review and approval of four regulatory actions that included system wide tariff adjustments over three years from January 1, 2011. The proposed tariff increases were 34.6 per cent in 2011, 13.8 per cent in 2012 and 13.9 per cent in 2013. However, the Electricity and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) deferred this until a credible cost of service study was carried out by an independent outfit. With effect from January 1, Tanesco is now requested to submit to Ewura quarterly reports detailing the implementation of its Repair and Maintenance Programme and Capital Investment Programme, customer connections, a system losses reduction status report, electricity purchased costs, own generation costs, number of metered customers, and total revenue and units sold.