Load shedding threatens City of Cape Town's R800m investment in electricity infrastructure

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The City of Cape Town said high levels of load shedding could put an R800 million investment in electricity infrastructure in Cape Town at risk.
The City of Cape Town said high levels of load shedding could put an R800 million investment in electricity infrastructure in Cape Town at risk.
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  • The City of Cape Town invested R800 million in electricity infrastructure between July and October.
  • However, it says increased load shedding could result in damage to this infrastructure.
  • South Africa moved back to Level 6 load shedding on Friday after a short respite.

High levels of load shedding could put an R800 million investment in electricity infrastructure in Cape Town at risk, the City of Cape Town has said.

The City said it invested the money in repairs, maintenance and critical upgrades between July and October this year to enable a reliable electricity supply in the metro. But continuous load shedding at high stages could have a detrimental impact on electricity infrastructure, said Mayco Member for Energy Beverley van Reenen.

This comes as the country moved back to Level 6 load shedding on Friday after a short respite.

The City has "protected customers from more than 60% of Eskom's load shedding or 1 700 hours of the 3 000 hours of load shedding", according to Van Reenen.

"However, Eskom's load shedding hammers our electrical infrastructure. Our infrastructure is not designed for this level of continuous load shedding, and we should not underestimate the impact it has on electricity infrastructure. The damage caused leads to prolonged outages after load shedding and high volumes of service requests," she said.

Van Reenen said teams would be working throughout the festive season to ensure electricity supply, carry out maintenance and upgrades, and deal with damage caused by load shedding.

ALSO READ | De Ruyter: 'This job is impossible given the current state, form of Eskom'

However, it is not just electricity infrastructure that suffers during extended outages. News24 previously reported that more than 100 sewer pump stations across Cape Town needed generators to keep up with load shedding and prevent sewage overflows – something that will come with a price tag of almost R200 million.

Acting Mayco Member for Water and Sanitation Siseko Mbandezi said that of the City of Cape Town's 487 sewer pump stations, 116 were "deemed to require generation capacity". Without these generators, the City could face sewage overflows.

Procuring these generators would cost an estimated R197 million, excluding civil requirements and professional services provider input. That does not include fuel costs and maintenance.

Along with sewage plants, high levels of load shedding also increase the time the pumps are down at water and waste treatment plants, News24 previously reported. This adds to the threat of water cuts and sewage overflows.

Western Cape Local Government MEC Anton Bredell warned that the biggest concerns facing municipalities were their sewerage and water works that were already under severe pressure, as the lack of electricity resulted in pumps stalling at plants. Last week, Bredell said the province was ready to handle high levels of load shedding over the festive season, and that the provincial Disaster Management Centre remained on alert.

ALSO READ | 1 in 5 Cape Town businesses facing 'extremely unreliable' power as load shedding bites

The provincial Disaster Management Centre monitors critical infrastructure which could be affected by high levels of load shedding.

"Previous experience has shown that municipal water and sewage systems struggle with extended load shedding above Stage 4, so this is of concern for us," Bredell said.

Level 6 load shedding means people can expect four load shedding stages of around four hours at a time. This can be implemented 18 times over a four-day period.

"We are urging people to save electricity wherever they can and to plan with the above reality in mind," he said.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said: "The Western Cape government's energy crisis contingency plan – with the provincial Disaster Management Centre taking the lead in managing the situation should it worsen – is sound and is continuously updated."

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