SA urged to save electricity

Pretoria – Power utility Eskom has continued to call on South Africans and the corporate world to make a 10% savings on electricity.

“Given the tightness of the system we understand that Eskom cannot reach energy savings working alone… it must include others,” Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Monday.

Gigaba said while the role played by companies in heeding the call to save power was appreciated, the situation “we’re in requires that we change the way we use energy”.

Gigaba added that stakeholders were being engaged on implementing a voluntary energy saving scheme.

Eskom Chief Executive Brian Dames said the 10% savings across all the parastatal’s customers was envisaged in the Energy Conservation Scheme developed by Eskom, customers and government in 2009.

“We don’t want to go back to load-shedding,” Dames said at the company’s first quarterly briefing this year.

Eskom is no longer able to sustain a system where it shifts planned maintenance and delays maintenance outages in order to meet the country’s energy requirements. Most of South Africa’s power stations have reached their mid-life and require more maintenance.

In the last two years, a backlog of maintenance outages has developed but this has been reduced from 36 to 25 units.

The power utility was yet to decide what it would ask the National Electricity Regulator of SA (Nersa) in tariff determination.

“From our perspective, we know that we have price increases every three years and now we’re in the second year. So this year we have to do our preparations for the next tariff increase. We’ve not decided what to apply for; we … will work through a process of understanding the impact on the economy. The country and the world – from an economic perspective – is in a very difficult position. We understand that clearly,” explained Dames.

The system is expected to remain tight until the introduction of the first unit of the Medupi station comes in 2013.

“We are confident that we are on top of the situation leading up to 2013. We are calling for active citizenship,” said Gigaba.

The parastatal had done a lot of maintenance work in December 2011. Since the power cuts in 2008, Eskom coal stockpiles have been replenished at healthy levels and the addition of 2537 MW of new capacity.

“Electricity is an important input that can help growth or impede it,” said Gigaba. – BuaNews