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South Africans on the edge and in the dark?

South Africans on the edge and in the dark?

Feb 4, 2015

As load-shedding becomes almost a way of life in South Africa, hampering business, emergency and general services, as well as homes, Eskom sources have apparently told a leading South African newspaper, City Press, that a national blackout was a “very significant possibility for the foreseeable future”.

In an article that has stunned many South Africans, the paper says “Cabinet has been briefed by Eskom about the risk of a total national electricity blackout – and the US embassy in Pretoria has drawn up an evacuation plan partly designed to get its staff out safely if the lights go off in South Africa once and for all”.

According to the paper, its sources said the situation at Eskom had grown worse over the past month. “Eskom should be able to generate 43 300MW of power on a 24-hour basis. However, on a good day, the power utility only produces 71% of its generation capacity owing to faults at its power stations – and the need for maintenance is critical. Lately, according to the utility’s own graphs, they have been operating at 65% on most days.”

Two mid-level technical managers working at Eskom apparently told City Press “the standing at the edge of the precipice” scenario was certainly not a secret within Eskom.

South Africans seeking solutions
In the meantime, South Africans look to the power utility itself, as well as local councils, for information on upcoming load-shedding – usually to no avail. Various publications and websites have listed times that consumers and businesses can expect load-shedding, but these are rarely correct.

A helpful site offering e-mail alerts daily and 15 minutes before load shedding is Sharenet. Again, this site is also only able to pass on information it has been given, which may or may not be correct. While Eskom has already warned of widespread load shedding, ongoing maintenance issues mean power may be lost due to sudden malfunctions.

South Africans across social media platforms are actively seeking solar and other renewable solutions, as well as any assistance from the Democratic Alliance, in what is being seen as an “absence of transparency” from the ruling party.

African Environment would like to hear from parties who have immediate alternative energy solutions for consumers. Contact us on editor@africanenvironment.co.za

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