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Cape Town - South Africans have helped Eskom keep the lights on and prevent blackouts by heeding the call to switch off unwanted lights and appliances during peak power periods.
Eskom chief executive Brian Dames and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba addressed the media during Eskom’s quarterly “state of the system” update in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“This winter was different, in that long-duration generation maintenance was planned to be done and was implemented,” Dames said. “It is an exceptional achievement to meet winter demand and do more maintenance than before.”
Gigaba said the SABC had helped in the collective effort to save electricity, particularly during the peak period: ”I am happy, once more, to report that South Africans responded to our calls unequivocally, co-operating with our national call and taking responsibility in their workplaces and households.”
Dames said: “Almost two-thirds of Eskom’s power stations are past the midpoint of their expected operating lives and therefore require higher levels of planned maintenance work.”
Five of the nine power stations’ winter maintenance plans had been completed. Three were being serviced and the last one would be done by the end of the month.
Dames said Eskom recently adopted a five-year plan aimed at ensuring sustainable generation.
“The new plan will see us target 10 percent of our generation capacity on average through the year to do fixed planned, design-based maintenance, to address safety, reliability and emissions issues at our power stations.”
In the short to medium term, this would introduce risks to balancing supply and demand. To manage these risks, South Africa would have to continue to focus on additional supply options, energy efficiency and some form of an energy conservation.
Dames said that although there was sufficient capacity to meet the demand in the daytime in winter, some evenings were tight, with all available generation in service.
Eskom needed to continue an active maintenance programme this summer and was looking to its customers to rise to the challenge of saving electricity.
“Since we started our demand side management programme in 2005, over 3 000MW of energy efficiency savings have been achieved - enough to power a city the size of Joburg.
“Our power bulletin and power alert, televised during the evening peak between 5pm and 9pm, have on average resulted in 348MW demand reduction in electricity usage during the red flightings. Let’s ‘live lightly’ this summer and help the country keep the lights on while at the same time reducing our impact on our planet.”
While residential consumers had the biggest impact in winter, the commercial sector had the biggest impact in summer.
“This summer, please remember that less is more. The less electricity you use the more electricity will be available to go around,” Dames said.