What happened to the power crisis?

2008-05-02 00:00

The news that Eskom is abandoning load shedding was met with happy incredulity yesterday by consumers, who are more confused than ever at the way Eskom has handled the energy crisis.

But Eskom warned yesterday that suspension of scheduled load shedding is by no means the end of the country’s national energy emergency and that additional effort and commitment all round is needed to reduce electricity consumption.

Many people were yesterday questioning why there has been such a fast turnaround at the beginning of winter when electricity demands inevitably increase.

In November last year, The Witness reported that Eskom’s regional customer services manager, Pool Mahadeo, told the KZN Legislature that South Africans would have to put up with another five to seven years of load shedding. He urged businesses whose production was energy dependent to find alternate sources of energy. Eskom has repeatedly warned customers that load shedding should become a way of life.

Sources in the know speculated yesterday that the change of heart by Eskom was in fact motivated by factors that include political pressure over the 53% proposed tariff hike.

“People are bringing lawsuits against Eskom for damages caused by load shedding. Municipalities are suffering as faulty substations blow up due to switching as occurred recently in Walmer at Port Elizabeth last week.”

A further source said that their operating licence imposes the obligation to provide electricity, and they are not meeting that imperative.

Some were puzzled at the timing of the cessation of load shedding, saying that if the main objective of load shedding was to unlock capacity on the grid, it made no sense to abandon load shedding now as no new infrastructure has been added.

A source close to Eskom warned that residents should not get complacent and that businesses should keep the generators they have purchased. He predicted further load shedding episodes, which he said were inevitable as Eskom’s existing infrastructure was being “hammered”.

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