Johannesburg - If Joburg residents are careful, there will no load shedding by City Power this winter. And Eskom has announced that although the grid is tight, it is stable, with no load shedding expected.
Even if the platinum mining sector starts powering up again on Tuesday, the parastatal expects to be able to cope.
On Friday, Eskom said it had load-shedded on Thursday night.
City Power spokesman Louis Pieterse said there would be no load shedding if residents and businesses continued to use power sparingly, as they had done in the last few months.
“We have done a lot of forward planning since 2008, when we experienced a lot of load shedding. We installed thousands of ripple relays, which are remotely controlled devices which can switch off power to properties to save electricity.
“We also have spare power from our Kelvin power station which we sell to Eskom, which we can – by agreement – use ourselves if we are short, which would give us another 140MW.”
Pieterse said City Power had about 200MW in reserve.
“We sell Kelvin power to Eskom, but the agreement is that we will be able able to utilise this power if required by Joburg, which would give us another 140MW.”
City Power was routinely drawing about 2 600MW to 2 700MW from Eskom to run Joburg.
“We would not like to exceed that,” said Pieterse.
“We are humbled by the favourable response we received from key customers and the residents of Joburg so far,” said Pieterse.
“The co-operation received is indicative of a great public-private partnership and it amply demonstrates that responsible energy usage is a responsibility that all of us have embraced.
“City Power has implemented a shift model to ensure our technicians are available 24 hours a day to attend to areas affected by power outages.”
He said the numerous outages around the city in the last few weeks had resulted from theft. “In fact, 37 percent of outages are due to copper theft. With copper selling at R79 a kilogram, there is a great demand for it.”
City Power had taken numerous steps to reduce theft through crime intelligence, alarm systems and laying cables deeper into the ground, and encasing them in concrete.
“So far, we have reduced theft from 42 percent in November, December and January to 37 percent (of outages),” he said.
Overcrowding in some areas was also putting a strain on the system.
However, many Joburg residents are not happy with the constant power outages.
Councillor Carlos da Rochas said that in the Malvern, Bertrams, Yeoville and Bellevue areas there were frequent breakdowns, one of which lasted eight days at the start of the month.
“There is a lack of proper maintenance and upgrading of the existing infrastructure. Also the city doesn’t address overcrowding in my wards and theft of electricity. The call centre is useless as residents cannot get through, leaving councillors to take care of the problem.”
Da Rocha said that for the past two weeks, as the council representative, he had been subjected to endless verbal abuse from desperate residents.
In Corlett Drive, Fairways, residents said every night from 6pm to 9.30pm they were without power.
In Newlands last week, residents threatened to burn down a power sub- station because of power outages, some of which last for days.
Councillor Amanda Forsythe appealed to City Power to get to the bottom of the problem instead of simply replacing fuses.
She noted that on June 6, there were 400 outages reported in the city, with 286 in Melville/Mayfair/Auckland Park (Region B) alone.
“We have only four qualified electricians in the region, two of whom work each shift. The rest is farmed out to contractors,” she said.
Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said the grid was stable and if the platinum sector resumed, the demand would increase gradually.
“It is not an instant increase. Demand increase, when back in full production, will be 400MW on the total system demand of 36 000MW.”