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More mixed messages on power outages

More mixed messages on power outages

Jan 6, 2015

Latest reports on the electricity situation with Eskom remain somewhat confusing, with South Africa’s media reporting on 4 January 2015 that the power company issued an alert that the grid would once again take strain with companies firing up after the December holidays. On 5 January 2015, City Press reported Eskom as saying “we can deal with spike in demand”.

Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe was reported by City Press as explaining: “We are seeing a lot of demand, but we are able to supply. The risk of load-shedding is low to medium. If things continue to go as they are, we are likely to go through this week without load-shedding. We ask people to use electricity sparingly.”

According to SABC news, an Eskom statement was released after the Democratic Alliance (DA) said Eskom and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa should give the country clarity on the current state of South Africa’s power supply system.

The DA’s Member of Parliament Natasha Michael says as the year begins, they must explain what the public should expect as the country returns to normal business. Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said that although Eskom conducted much maintenance work in December, it is “not enough”.

He said that, given the level of maintenance needed to bring power stations into a state of reliability, “it just wasn’t possible”.

“We need a lot longer than the few weeks that was given, so we are hoping that it has made a difference. We’re hoping that we will get the little extra power out of that but certainly the grid is going to be under pressure and as we are at the moment.”

Etzinger said that a number of generators that have been out of service for the past few weeks are being brought back into service, which will boost the system.

Eskom’s 24 December 2014 deadline to synchronise unit 6 at the new Medupi power station to the national grid was not achieved, and the company released a statement on 2 January 2015 saying that the unit 6, the first unit of the Medupi power station was “close to first synchronisation”.

In the meantime, residents around the country continue to expect power outages – often without warning – and attempt to make alternate arrangements for power. Companies that offer solar solutions to consumers should find much opportunity in the coming months as South Africans actively seek to reduce their reliance on Eskom.

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