Double load shedding soon

2008-03-26 00:00

Power rationing from next week

Pietermaritzburg is set to shed almost twice its usual amount of electricity when the country enters phase two or the power rationing phase of the national emergency response plan from Monday.

Eskom yesterday announced that South Africa is entering a three-month power rationing phase, until July 1.

The move will place immense pressure and responsibility on residents, commercial users and smaller customers to save 10% of their consumption and reduce demand.

According to Peter Opperman, acting process manager at the Msunduzi Municipality, a new load-shedding schedule for Pietermaritzburg is on the verge of being finalised and should be ready by tomorrow.

Although industry in KZN appears to have done its bit to save electricity in recent months, Peter Craig, Eskom’s general manager for the eastern region, told The Witness that there have been “very little savings” by residents and commercial customers (or smaller businesses).

These and other critical issues came under the spotlight yesterday as representatives from government, Eskom and other key energy sector stakeholders gathered in Pietermaritzburg for the country’s first provincial electricity load shedding summit.

The event — organised by the KZN Finance and Economic Development and Local Government departments — covered a wide variety of issues related to electricity supply, distribution, demand and infrastructure.

The Msunduzi Municipality has had to change the way in which they implement the switching-off process during load shedding in order to make the process safer for employees who have had to use dangerous switch-gear.

Opperman said the increase in the load shedding requirement — amounting to about 18 MVA (megavolt ampere) — will actually enable them to safeguard employees from the risks associated with the switch-gear.

However, he added that this may also mean that more consumers will be affected by load shedding at any given point.

“As of March 31 the switching will be done on the primary side, remotely …”

He added that the council has approved a R300 million five-year investment in new switching equipment.

A representative of the Emnambithi/Ladysmith Municipality said outdated equipment represents “a rather frightening accident waiting to happen”.

The representative said the pre-1970 oil-filled switching gear has been used far too frequently, due to load shedding.

Craig said they aim to distribute a total of 8,5 million compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in KZN by August 2008, about 9,5% of the total national allocation.

He added that more than 400 megawatts have been saved in the province as a result of the efficient use of geysers and the use of CFLs. Craig said KZN’s demand for electricity amounts to 18% of SA’s total demand.

Finance MEC Dr Zweli Mkhize stressed the need to save electricity on an ongoing basis, adding that increased communication between all stakeholders remains a core component of the provincial response to the challenge.

kavith@witness.co.za

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