Load shedding drives people to use gas

2008-01-15 00:00

ELECTRICITY users find themselves having to look for other alternatives as Eskom’s load-shedding programme continues to plunge parts of the country into darkness.

In a statement released yesterday, Eskom said that load-shedding, which resumed yesterday, is expected to continue for the rest of the week following technical difficulties experienced at a few power generating units, coupled with a low generation capacity reserve margin.

Gas suppliers in and around Pietermaritzburg said consumers are turning to gas as a viable alternative to electricity since the start of Eskom’s load-shedding programme last year.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Roy Sivemangal of Airflex Industrial Gases in Hoosen Haffejee (Berg) Street said his business has recorded an increased demand of about 22% in domestic gas supplies since the start of load shedding.

“We are seeing more and more people who have access to electricity turning to gas as an alternative to Eskom,” he said.

Sivemangal says most consumers find gas to be a viable alternative as it is slightly cheaper than electricity, while it is also safer compared to other energy means, like paraffin.

Lesley Hannaway of Nottingham Gas Supplies agreed with Sivemangal saying there has been an increase in demand for supplies like gas lamps and cookers.

“The stories we’re hearing from our consumers is that they are sick and tired of Eskom, especially because there is little or no warning prior to power outages,” she said.

Hannaway quantified the demand increase recorded at Nottingham Road Gas Supplies to about 30% since November last year.

The suppliers of solar products are also anticipating a similar increase in demand.

Kevin Green of Solar World said while there has been “no marked difference” in the demand for solar supplies, he is anticipating an increase in demand.

Phil Mashoko, strategic executive manager for infrastructure services and facilities at Msunduzi, confirmed yesterday that load shedding is underway in the municipal area.

He said that the municipality would be sticking to the schedules that were published recently in The Witness and are available online.

Mashoko said that part of the CBD was without power yesterday morning until 12 pm. “ … another part was shut down for two hours,” said Mashoko.

He appealed to residents to use power sparingly and suggested they keep referring to the schedule to assess when they would be without power.

•For assistance with the load-shedding schedules, call the municipality’s customer care helpline on 033 392 2608 or 033 392 2445.

See the full details in the load-shedding schedule posted on The Witness website at www.witness.co.za

Eskom resumes load shedding this morning.

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