It’s been a dark week so far for South Africans with “high-level” power outages across the country.
While citizens already faced unprecedented blackouts this weekend after additional power station breakdowns which forced Eskom to announce stage 6 load shedding on Sunday morning.
However, Eskom is still coming back to ask the citizens of South Africa for more money.
The power utility cut 6,000 megawatts from the national grid following trips at the Kusile and Kriel power stations. That’s sufficient energy to supply almost 4 million homes, said Bloomberg.
The country is now at risk of breaching stage 6, the utility’s chief executive officer Andre De Ruyter said at a briefing on Sunday when asked if the situation might worsen.
However, Eskom’s key but problematic Kriel power station saw flames on Monday as one of its conveyor belts caught alight resulting in billowing smoke filling the skies above.
The large-scale fire had South African onlookers in a panic as the possibility of Stage 8 flashed before our eyes.
The City of Cape Town, meanwhile, said it is working to build reserves to enable it to protect customers from two stages of Eskom’s load shedding for this week ahead, where possible.
“Currently…the city is using its Steenbras Hydro Pumped Storage Scheme to generate spare capacity to enable a measure of protection for the week ahead,” it said.
“Customers can continue to look at reducing usage. Geysers use the bulk of household energy, and reducing the temperature of the geyser to 60 degrees Celsius or making sure the geyser is on a timer or only active for an hour or two per day is a crucial step to reducing energy usage,” said the city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, councillor Beverley van Reenen.
Furthermore, the city said it would continue on its programme to end load shedding over time by focusing on energy diversification. The city’s small-scale embedded generation programmes, of buying excess power from qualifying customers, wheeling and independent power producing programmes all aim to secure the supply of power.
“But for now, we need an urgent national government intervention from president Cyril Ramaphosa to avert this fast-approaching disaster,” said van Reenen.
Not only is The City of Cape Town scrambling to move away from Eskom’s grid, but the City of Johannesburg is also seeking to move away from Eskom’s grid by partnering with independent power producers. It said it has identified a gap of around 500 megawatts of power, where it will be able to shift customers away from a reliance on the state power utility.
High levels of load shedding put City Power’s network at risk of faults and unplanned outages. The city aims to launch a framework within the coming weeks, to procure energy from independent producers.
Also read: Eskom announces Stage 5 loadshedding
According to BusinessTech, civil action group, Outa says that Eskom’s application to energy regulator Nersa for a 32% price hike in 2023 will end up being closer to 38% once backlogs and court-ordered increases are taken into account.
This hike, it said, would be a slap in the face of consumers and businesses who continue to suffer under load shedding, which hit stage 6 for the second time this year over the weekend, with warnings of ‘unprecedented outages’ still to come.
“As the country buckles under stage 6 load shedding, Eskom is coming back to citizens of South Africa to ask for more money. It is outrageous that people are being asked to pay when services are not delivered,” Outa said.
As we all know, businesses, public services and households are being significantly disrupted by the now-routine load shedding.
The civil group, Outa says Eskom seems to assume that electricity consumers are a captive audience from which it can demand money while failing to supply a service.
In addition, the group said that Nersa should grant a maximum increase to Eskom at the levels of the consumer price index (CPI).
Eskom applied for total allowable revenue of R334.676 billion for 2023/24. This includes R317.696 billion to be raised from standard tariff customers – i.e. everyone except the big customers with negotiated price agreements.
The price is calculated from the allowable revenue and the predicted energy sales. Nersa said Eskom’s application, plus three additional amounts since it was filed, could result in a price of 202.29c per kilowatt hour – an increase of 38.10% on the current price, reports BussinesTech.
When looking at the current situation with the load shedding chaos, Outa says that South Africans simply cannot afford more electricity price hikes.