An example of a prepaid electricity meter.
Pretoria - The township of Winterveldt, north of Pretoria, was on Wednesday identified as the top hot spot for power outages in Tshwane, due to transformers overloading from illegal connections, electricity and cable theft and a host of other issues.

This was affecting the already compromised supply of electricity to homes in the area and resulting in more outages during winter.

According to Eskom Tshwane zone manager Martin Pieterse, the network of Winterveldt and many areas across the country were overloaded due to cold weather and illegal connections.

“When winter approaches, people use electricity more to warm their houses, and that causes major system constraints.

"And because most people are illegally connected to the electricity grid, they don’t care how they use it,” he said.

This negatively affected paying customers.

He spoke as Eskom outlined its provincial winter plans in Ga-Rankuwa on Wednesday.

“Currently, Winterveldt tops Tshwane areas giving us challenges,” Pieterse said.

The area has experienced an increased failure rate of transformers and bundle conductors due to illegal connections.

There was more electricity and cable theft and transformer overloading due to illegal connections.

The everyday increase of informal settlements in and around Winterveldt was the reason for the problems and what posed the challenge, Pieterse explained.

Removing illegal connections was not an effective strategy as residents always re-connected them. “We do remove illegal connections but that’s a strategy that does not work. This is not an absolute solution,” he said.

“We understand that everyone needs electricity, but the reason we cannot electrify informal settlements is because they do not have structures.”

He said without proper structures it was difficult to track down customers during and after electricity blackouts, or when there were other related problems. This was because informal settlements did not have street names and addresses.

But he said Eskom had come up with plans and strategies to ensure that power outage challenges in communities would be a thing of the past.

They have introduced a split metering project that would reduce power outages and electricity supply interruptions.

“Once split meters are installed, they allow customers to manage their consumption, minimise power outages and electricity supply interruptions,” said Nkosana Sibuyi, Eskom spokesperson.

He said unlike the old meter box which was inside the house and accessible to everyone, the split meter box was installed outside on a pole where people could not boldly tamper with it.

Pretoria News