News and updates from the continent

Power-outs: South Africans taking charge

Power-outs: South Africans taking charge

Dec 10, 2014

As South Africa continues to face load-shedding that is disruptive to both business and consumers, the embattled utility “powerhouse” Eskom’s chief executive Tshediso Matona said in a media briefing on 8 December 2014 that there will be “36 likely load-shedding days until the end of March 2015”.

The situation is not likely to get any better, given that Medupi appears to have missed all its deadlines and word on the street is that Eskom is some four years behind in its maintenance.

Matona and other Eskom executives have urged the public to learn how to read load-shedding schedules, to keep them handy and plan ahead. The trouble with that is that many consumers are finding load-shedding and the schedules don’t match. Then, there appears to be an issue with “spiking” when electricity comes back on, causing damage to electrical goods and certain sub-stations, meaning some areas are without electricity for days.

The media is currently filled with stories, stats and figures about the mess that is the South African power situation right now and consumers and businesses are sourcing their own solutions to mitigate the impact of load shedding.

African Environment suggests that consumers plan for unscheduled power outages in the home by implementing “universal power-out precautions”. Here are some tips to keep you as comfortable as possible when your power is turned off:

• Buy an “airpot” thermos from a kitchenware store. Boil water and fill the airpot first thing in the morning and then last thing at night so you can make tea/instant noodles
• Stock up with batteries for torches and lanterns, as well as candles. Be very careful with candles and any other open flames, especially if you have children or animals who could knock them over
• Make sure you have lighters or matches handy
• If you have a smart phone, download an assistive light app so the phone can act as a lamp until you get your candles/torches on
• Buy an inverter (if you can find one) or a UPS to keep your computer running long enough to complete a little work and shut it off safely
• Charge you cell phones, laptops and tablets during the hours you do have power
• Cook foods that will keep for a day or two in your fridge – if the fridge goes off, you still have a few hours to ensure everything is kept cold. Consume the food before it gets to room temperature
• Keep foods in your pantry that don’t require cooking – or buy fresh goods like salads and fruit daily
• Have a braai with the family in the evening – invite neighbours to bring their food and pots of water to boil on your fire

As South Africans continue to bemoan the Eskom issues – which are, admittedly, awful in the extreme – we need to ensure our own comfortability and find ways of reducing the impact of load-shedding on our businesses and homes. Seek out solar solutions and, when you find them, share the information with others.

African Environment is currently speaking to suppliers who can provide both electricity-charged and solar inverters. We will keep our readers informed as soon as we know where they can be purchased.

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