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Lesotho in power deficit, new wind and hydro hoped to ease problems

Lesotho is facing a power deficit due to a surge in demand that outstrips its 72 MW capacity and South Africa's power crisis has worsened it, a senior energy official said on Thursday.
The tiny southern Africa kingdom of about two-million people has a peak demand of 110 MW and relies largely on South Africa to provide it with the remaining 38 MW it needs. But South Africa is currently suffering its own power crisis.

State-run utility Eskom, which provides 95% of South Africa's power, has been rationing electricity since January when the national grid almost shut down.

"For the past years we have been relying on South Africa. But we are looking around. But you are aware, South Africa is also facing a crisis in terms of meeting its own demand," Leloko Mokhutsoane, deputy director at Lesotho's energy department, told Reuters in an interview.

All Lesotho's locally-produced electricity comes from a dam commissioned in 1998. Mokhutsoane said the country's utility had been forced to ration electricity to its 60 000 customers, especially during its winter which ran from May to July.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of regional electricity regulators, Mokhutsoane said the government was in talks with donors to study the possibility of setting up more hydropower stations with a potential of 80 MW.

The government had also signed an agreement with South Africa's Net Group to do another study into producing 20 MW of wind power, due to be completed in April 2009, he said.

Additional information:
News date: 13/11/2008

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