Cape Town - South Africans are using less energy than they did during the load shedding “crisis” and blackouts period of 2008, according to Energy Minister Ben Martins.

His remark flies in the face of Eskom’s recent warning that residents need to take it easy with electricity or face blackouts similar to the ones experienced six years ago.

On Saturday, Eskom lifted the emergency it declared the previous evening, saying load shedding had not been not implemented as South Africans had heeded the call to save.

Eskom had called on all its commercial customers, particularly shopping centres and retail outlets, to switch off geysers and adjust air-conditioning temperature levels to 23ºC.

The power utility said the system was “severely constrained” due to the loss of additional generating units from its power station fleet, “reduced imports and the extensive use of emergency reserves”.

Responding to a written parliamentary question released yesterday, Martins said since 2008 electricity consumption had decreased gradually.

He said the electricity consumption in gigawatt-hours (Gwh) per annum and the percentage growth for the period 2008 to last year was based on Eskom’s financial year ending March 31 of each year.

“In addition, it should be noted that demand is seasonal in that there is higher demand during (the) winter season than the summer season, and demand tends to drop during holidays, such as the Easter Holidays,” Martins said.

He said the reduction in electricity consumption was as a result of various factors such as “change in the economy and commodity prices”.

Today, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi and chief executive Brian Dames will lead a Quarterly State of the System briefing, providing details of Eskom’s maintenance programme. - Cape Times