City of Joburg says it’s working on long-and short-term solutions to the problem of outages across the city. File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu.
City of Joburg says it’s working on long-and short-term solutions to the problem of outages across the city. File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu.

We're working on a plan to end outages, says City Power

By Anna Cox Time of article published Jul 31, 2020

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The City of Joburg is working on long-and short-term solutions to the problem of outages across the city.

Because of power supply shortages, some due to Covid-19, areas in the city have experienced up to two-week-long power cuts.

Responding to Metrowatch last week, Environment and Infrastructure MMC Mpho Moerane said as a long-term solution, the city was in negotiations with Kelvin Power Station on a new power purchase agreement (PPA).

“It is important for us that whatever new PPA we enter into with any power supplier, whether Kelvin or any company, must serve the people of Joburg and must lead to improvement in the availability of electricity supply.

“We also aim to take full advantage of the national government and the National Electricity Regulator’s permission for local government to generate its own electricity.

“As such, we will take full advantage of resources such as waste and the sun, which are available for the city to generate power,” Moerane said.

These long-term measures would be announced at the appropriate time.

In the meantime, the city was hard at work ensuring that it builds its capability in energy generation, transmission and distribution.

Moerane accused DA member and former MMC Nico de Jager, who called on the city to enter into agreements with independent power producers when he was in office, of offering solutions to the electricity challenges he failed to solve.

“Only a few months ago, De Jager explained the electricity challenges within the city, appealing to customers to stop illegal connections and thus explaining the link between illegal connections and power interruptions.

“If the councillor had spent time during his term in office solving the problem, rather than explaining it, the city would be in a better place today,” Moerane said.

“When the ANC took over the city, we inherited a City Power that did not have the basics such as sufficient material to deliver the required services.

“We have put in the relevant processes to rectify this issue.

“I do, however, acknowledge that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the speed we had intended to enable the required service delivery,” Moerane added.

In the short-term, City Power, in partnership with the Joburg Metro Police Department, the city’s group forensic department and SAPS, would remove illegal connections weekly.

“Our educational and communications initiatives assist in educating communities to take ownership of the electricity network and report incidences of illegal connections.”

Regarding the ongoing theft of copper wire, which is one of the major causes of unplanned power interruptions, Moerane said City Power was currently replacing stolen copper cables with aluminium cables (which attract less scrap-yard value, and are thus less likely to be stolen).

This was an expensive exercise and, as such, it was not feasible to replace all copper cables in the city, he said, adding: “Until we have totally eradicated theft and vandalism and illegal connections that lead to network overloading, it is almost impossible to stop unplanned power interruptions.

“This is also an economic and social challenge. Therefore, if our economy improves and unemployment is reduced, we are likely to see reduced illegal connections and vandalism.

“Our administration continues to enjoy a fruitful relationship with the national electricity supplier and is able to deal with all business challenges for the mutual benefit of ourselves, Eskom, and ultimately the people of Joburg and South Africa.

“Challenges such as non-payment, illegal connections, theft and vandalism of the electricity network affect both ourselves and Eskom and, as such, it makes sense for us to work together, as opposed to being at war with one another.

“Ultimately both City Power and Eskom exist for the purpose of serving the interest of the people of Johannesburg and South Africa,” MMC Moerane said.

@annacox

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