Eskom under massive power pressure

2011-01-07 07:07

Johannesburg - It’s going to take a massive team effort from all parties concerned to avoid load shedding this year.

The lack of new power stations in South Africa will finally catch up with the country this year and could lead to a repetition of the dark days of 2008.

Eskom CEO Brian Dames says that Eskom has repeatedly warned that the SA power network will be under massive pressure in 2011 and 2012, because of this lack of new generating capacity.

“Now 2011 is here, and we can confirm that the power network is under pressure,” Dames told the media yesterday.

Eskom’s new power stations that are being built will only start producing power in 2013, and Dames said it’s going to demand a team effort like never before to manage the network until then.

“If adequate steps aren’t taken to manage the gap between the demand for power and the available power, the deficit this year will be as much as 6 terawatt hours. That’s equal to the amount of power that a city like Cape Town uses in one year.”

Eskom’s total power capacity at present is 41 500MW, of which 1 500MW are imported from Cahora Bassa.

“The total demand for power at the moment is 30 000MW at peak times. That’s expected to increase to 32 000MW in the next two weeks,” Dames said.

However, he said, Eskom expects the demand during this year’s winter months to rise further to 38 000MW.

That leaves a reserve of only 3 500MW for unforeseen power problems.

This reserve should normally be 15% of the total power network. But, in the winter this figure will therefore fall to just over 8%.

“Our power stations are old, between 30 and 40 years old, and unexpected short circuits and unavailability of power stations occur frequently,” Dames said.

The amount of power that was unavailable yesterday, for example, was 4 521MW. If this were to be repeated in the winter months, load shedding would be unavoidable again.

Investment Solutions economist Chris Hart said that what makes Eskom’s job particularly difficult is that the economy is recovering again.

“As the economy gets going after the recession, the demand for power will simply continue. The recession helped us in 2009 and 2010, because the demand wasn’t as high as it would’ve been without the impact of the recession. This helped Eskom in particular.”

Hart said that factories want to start returning to production, and consequently they need more electricity.

“Is load shedding coming again? No one knows for certain, but the warning signs are definitely there.”

Hart said that the present crisis can’t be compared with the situation in 2008, because now the situation is rather that of a lack of forward planning.

“Eskom should’ve started building new power stations long ago. They started too late. Now we are running short of power. In 2008, the problem was rather one of poor management and operational errors, which resulted in a crisis.”

Dames said that Eskom is looking at various ways of managing the situation. This includes the use of diesel-driven power generators.

“This option is very expensive, but at peak times when demand is at its highest, that would be an essential expenditure. Another option is to negotiate contracts with independent power suppliers as soon as possible. We have already signed contracts with four parties to provide up to 287MW of power in the future. Finally, we are appealing to all South Africans to save as much power as possible.”

- Sake24

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  • david - 2011-01-07 08:00

    WELL maybe if Eskom can turn off the street lights during the day on the Buccleuch interchange / N1 those lights are contantly on and never off.Eskom must not come up with excuses and say there will be power cuts. how many other places have lights constantly on.ESKOM you are a bunch of clowns and have no idea whats happening. many years ago they warned there will be a problem and this could have been sorted out but you did not listen. cause you rather fill your back pockets

  • BILLY - 2011-01-07 08:04

    They are always under pressure, but we are paying more and more for power..... where is the money going.....let me guess.

  • LiesAndMoreLies - 2011-01-07 08:08

    Loadshedding has already begun in certain parts of the country. In December Highveld Centurion was without power for exactly 2 hours, as soon as the power came on Doringkloof Centurion's power went off. Smells like loadshedding to me.

  • Charles - 2011-01-07 08:08

    There are a few oints that can be looked at: 1. Street lights burning during the day. 2. Look at option of putting street lights in certai areas off during the night. 3. Have every 2nd or even third street light burn instaed of all of them. There will be an increased risk of burglaries if street lights are off, but if people then switch on a light in their place of residense it will reduce the risk. I am not satisfied that government and ESCOM lokked at all avenues...

  • James - 2011-01-07 08:09

    Isn't it amazing how the power grid ALWAYS reaches crisis point at the same time of year: when Eskom wants to increase electricity fees...

  • Baas'Boerseun - 2011-01-07 08:13

    Correction: Eskom or the ANC regime cided to not build the power stations that was planned and budgetted for much earlier? They decided to spoend the money in other ways and now we have to pay for it....again?

  • Ruaan du Plessis - 2011-01-07 08:13

    Management at the Municipalities is all to blame. We cry because of shortages in power. But all the lights on the N1 and R21 are on, during the day. What can we expect? Maybe flip some swithches when its needed? Light needed - AT NIGHT not day!

  • Gerrie - 2011-01-07 08:14

    Maybe the lack of a bigger bonus is motivating his statements. We are probably going to be pressured into another large power increase by blackmailing us like they did in 2008.

  • 4Eskom - 2011-01-07 08:15

    How long is eskom going to be blamed instead of the government? Eskom could have started building power stations long ago. But no, the government saw it unnecessary. Eskom applied for a loan and the anti-anc disputed. People from south africa. The same people who will be shouting incompetence when there is load shedding. We must get our priorities straight and realize that sometimes it is not about the and but for the benefit of the country. We would much rather deal with investigating corruption while the lights are on

  • LittleNinjaDevil - 2011-01-07 08:21

    I am happy not to hear any mention of appartheid here. I am budgeting on there being load shedding this year in december for the good of the country.

  • William - 2011-01-07 08:22

    Eskom's scope of supply should remain within SA borders and there will be no crisis.

  • mik - 2011-01-07 08:24

    Should have listened to old government back in 94. They warned you all about this.

  • TinX - 2011-01-07 08:24

    Here we go again! Eskom seriously sounds like it is being run by a bunch of monkeys! God, please give me stregnth! :(

  • Deon Bosch - 2011-01-07 08:25

    I do not understand the reasoning behind NERSA end ESKOM. All over the world Countries allow consumers to install their own renewable energy generation via solar, wind etc, releiving pressure on the network and even selling the excess power to the network. I do not know any person who will not rather pay R2,500-00 per month on his bond to install renewable energy rather than pay ESKOM the same amount (to be increased at a massive rate over the next few years.) Rather than trying to borrow billions to build new dirty power stations, let the general public fund the project and generate their own clean green power. You need not be a rocket scientist to do this calculation. If Eskom claims by switching off your domestic geyser relieves pressure on the network, imagine what effect it could have if thousands of households go completely off-grid and even contribute to increase power availability to the network.

  • Freddy - 2011-01-07 08:28

    Power requirements for the future were already seen in the late 1980's by the man in the street including officials from Eskom & Government. Why must the consumers suffer due to lack of foresight and the continueous daydreaming by both parties?

  • Pleb - 2011-01-07 08:28

    So what's new - dumb nation getting even dumber

  • Peter Gordonson - 2011-01-07 08:29

    Is ESKOM not preparing us for load shedding? Is this not really due to them being seemingly politically forced (despite safety concerns) to award again 10s of contracts to small FOT contractors with political clout but little capacity to cart coal to the power stations, late last year? Maybe why there is almost no coal at CAMDEN / KOMATI power stations? Wake up SA - it may seem like we are being fooled again.

  • Jane - 2011-01-07 08:30

    Funny this considering such power shortages were identified much earlier than 2007!!! Forward thinking and short term solutions need to be sought in the interim - proposing more power stations that take years to build won't help now.

  • G_G_N_O_R_E - 2011-01-07 08:32

    More abusive media to increase the price and worth of electricity. Why was there such intensive load shedding a few years back, but the past 2 years we have experienced minimal blackouts? Warning people to save power? they wanto increase the price by 33%, and they know people cant save more than 10% unless they go off grid.

  • Johan - 2011-01-07 08:34

    Also switch of the newley installed N1 lights on the freeway outbound in Cape Town at Century City. The whole section has been burning 24 hours for over 3 weeks now.

  • steven - 2011-01-07 08:35

    Nowhere in our halowed Government or anywhere where Government's cronies are in charge is there any creative thinking or forward planning. But they are too busy stealing anyway...

  • rooies - 2011-01-07 08:37

    on eskom's acc hi demand season is during winter months and you pay alot more that time of year also, so why did we and we are going to have blackouts again. so vaaldam is full no extra hydro power sort term sulution longterm big sub stations. also why did eskom sell powerstations to the chinese. why do you not cut zim's power first before letting you own economy down

  • PonkieDiel - 2011-01-07 08:37

    They are busy preparing us for yet another ridiculous hike in tariffs. Same tactics as always scare us with a few power outages and then tell us about their lack of funds, blah, blah, blah... Why do we have to keep on paying for their incompetence while management keep on getting fat bonus as a reward for their laziness? This a another article attributed to the same Brian Dames, is he suffering from Alzheimer’s or does he think all the consumers has Alzheimer’s?

  • Neal - 2011-01-07 08:40

    I some how do not understand how Eskom can be under pressure when there are private power stations such as Kelvin power in Kempton which stood for 15 months during the load shedding period. Can Eskom not involve power stations such as these in times when they themselves cannot generate the capacity needed. Two things are wrong with eskom one is greed the other is there strict bbeee policy which excludes white owned companies from contibuting there knowledge into keeping our countries lights on.

  • Daylight robbery - 2011-01-07 08:45

    I live in the Greymont, JHB area and our street lights have been on 24/7 since before easter 2010. Wasted my cell contract airtime to log a call to JHB City and 3 calls with references on their website. Lights are STILL burning. How much electicity could we have saved if the call centre agents for who the city paid some BEE company in excess of R40k per month actually did their jobs?

  • Ederik - 2011-01-07 08:49

    “Eskom should’ve started building new power stations long ago. They started too late. Now we are running short of power. In 2008, the problem was rather one of poor management and operational errors, which resulted in a crisis.” This is an admittance of bad management, but they gave themselves millions in (non)performance bonusses. They should pay all that money back. If they do loadshedding, we do not get the availabilty of power we pay for. Will we get a pro-rata discount?

  • paul - 2011-01-07 08:55

    I am not interested in hearing this crap, I am paying the new hiked price for electricity, Mr Eskom, you need to supply me...else lower my tariffs or cut off the foreign countries.

  • Oupa Willem - 2011-01-07 09:03

    O well, at least my l'l 650-Watt generator will keep my fridge 'n deep-freeze cool, and the telly on the go while we use gas for cooking and praffin as well as gas and candles for lighting. At my age, its almost fun to go back to the primitive pre-1940's age. Many of us oldies remember "them good o'l days" when a very significant percentage of us did not have ANY electricity in our houses....O yes, almost forgot, cooking was done on a Dover wood stove and a bloke with a horse and cart came around once a week with cut up Port Jackson and Roouikrans logs to keep cookinng on the go. Also, if he did not turn up, my mom used her little Roarer Primus and a single paraffin burner stove to tide her over on the rare occasion that we ran out before we saw him again. We managed pretty well and me 'n the Wife will do it again, especially as we now have that "newfangled thing" called LP-gas to bring a modicum of comfort to the load-shedding situation we can expect.

  • SameOldSameOld - 2011-01-07 09:09

    We are being robbed by the government. We pay for services by means of taxes and never receive the service. Then they add more taxes to have even worse service. The same applies to Eskom

  • gpwengineer - 2011-01-07 09:15

    Why dont we, the SA public, just bring a class action against Eskom on the basis that of services not rendered for money we paid to them. How can Eskom legally roll out prepaid meters if they cannot deliver the service for which we had to pay upfront. This is ridiculous

  • Chris Sherlock - 2011-01-07 09:30

    Hand electricity production over to private enterprise. I'd love to be selling something people want that they can't get from anyone but me. I would just raise the cost and rake in the profits. How can our leaders aim for 6 per cent economic growth when we don't have the power to achieve it. Welcome to La La Land. Power is nothing without control.

  • Michel - 2011-01-07 09:41

    @ Daylight Robbery - the reason the council leaves the electricity on, is as a deterrent to cable thieves. It's riskier to swipe the cables from a "live" post, than otherwise. And the cost to reair said lost cables is more expensive than the cost of electricity. Go figure!

  • Fedup - 2011-01-07 10:10

    ...the result of affirmative action.... ....and BEE.... .....and its still going on.....

  • Eish!!! - 2011-01-07 10:13

    Eskom is not the only one to blame for the current crises. please South Africa - get educated and find out where the fault is when streetlights are burning - power are cut etc. Eskom and the munics are not the same company. If you have problems with your munic do not blame Eskom!! Also,Eskom already requested funds for the new built program in 1996 but the Goverment deemed it wise to ignore the request as the money were 'invested" in the arms deal. So who is to blame? Only Eskom??!!!

  • noel mcclune - 2011-01-07 10:13


  • PS - 2011-01-07 10:16

    If am of to Aus you guys have fun here light out ,

  • Jan Pierewiet - 2011-01-07 10:23

    Quick quick Escom, give management another performance bonus...

  • PeterM - 2011-01-07 10:26

    @Charles & Ruaan. What about the massive billboards all around the country? These are lit up with massive numbers of halogen lamps, it would not surprise me these were visible from outer space. Apart from the danger to drivers being distracted thus increasing the potential for an accident I would guestimate that if they were all banned (Illumination that is) the savings could quite probably run into megawatts. One local one has 15 Halogen lamps, look like 500 watt, however may be higher. that means consumption of 7.5 kilowatts. not difficult to get into the megawatt ranges. Nice income for municipalities while the rest of the rate payers are powerless.

  • insider - 2011-01-07 10:30

    It never ceases to amaze me how much complaining white South Africans do without bothering to check their facts. I don't see many of you putting up your hands to pitch in and help fix the problem, so please stop making negative and factually incorrect statements about what is going on in the SA electricity supply.

  • Michael - 2011-01-07 10:37

    Maybe a effort to stop all non paying electricty users. Then we should have about 30 to 40% more capacity to use for paying customers. Maybe a concerted effort my all municipalities to use electricity sparingly, swith off street lights (hence some maintenance) during day, use new energy saving bulbs for street lights, switch off lights in buildings during night time. Remove all energy sapping bar heaters from municipalities/government officers. I saw 3 bar heatres been used during december, the lady said it was cold, ja right, about 19 C. Propper maintenance to be re-installed at all municipaliteis/government offices/buildings. We all know for a fact that the new government has never had maintenance on the list of essencial services at all. It has taken 16 years for every thing to fail due to the maintenance been stopped or not budgeted for. To all government/municipalities officials, YES, there are maintenance procedures for all facets of roads, electricity, water, sewerage etc in your offices somewhere. Just that you never read them does not mean they dont exist.

  • md - 2011-01-07 10:44

    a buddy of mine has upgraded some traffic lights with solar power, to take pressure off the grid, its working pretty well, he is trying to get all teh lights in and around jhb on the same setup, he has been awaiting government approval forever tough, ie you can only help out as much as the government allows you too.

  • Liars! - 2011-01-07 11:02

    What about The wrong fuel for Koeberg??? The Turbine that could not go past 60% without vibrating itself to pieces? HUH? Stop lying!

  • Shams - 2011-01-07 11:03

    Eskom has the highest paid employees in SA of all corporates and yet they are incapable of doing their job. Since the ANC deployed their "lackies" to various SOEs, these have failed miserably in their mandates and yet always excuses and more excuses! We are building a cultural of begging & stealing and not of hard work and honesty. But I guess the white man will again bail us out.

  • malcomx - 2011-01-07 11:05

    @Fedup. Are you looking for a job? please wait unti we employe every african,evn those who are still at school. Get over yourself!

  • WL - 2011-01-07 11:11

    On the other side ... I still find it strange that when it comes to educating people about ways of saving electricity, the same old "culprits" always get blamed. We, the users, are partly to blame for the electricity problem due to the the excess load on the grid. The load during summer becomes increasingly higher and there is only one thing to blame - air conditioners. About a decade ago it was still a luxury for the rich only. Nowadays almost every house and townhouse are equipped with more than 2 units per house. And what people do not realize is that an Air-con uses almost as mcuh power as a kettle or small geyser - roughly 2500W - 3000W. Do we really need this in our average climate? As for winter, there has always been heaters and geysers, but underfloor heating has also become a status symbol! Really! In SA we can do without that too! The past 10 winters in Pretoria was so mild that I did not even have the need to switch on a heater on any day during the winter! I think people just become more and more "softies" as these luxuries become status symbols!

  • Nixon@INSIDER - 2011-01-07 11:14

    What are the facts then? please inform us. Are we paying more for electricity? do we have a energy crisis? could this have been avoided by future planning? I look forward to your well informed retort...

  • Electric Consumer - 2011-01-07 11:32

    For the first time we have a competent CEO that set the facts straight. I wish them the very best of luck for the next year to sort this mess out left by the previous management structure.

  • VroomInc - 2011-01-07 11:38

    Street lights are on during the day because of cable thefts in badly affected areas. Live cables discourage the practise.

  • MJM - 2011-01-07 11:39

    Eskom should be taken to task about this.Having been a supplier to Eskom in the 1980s & the 1990s when they started with the ready bourds for the rural areas & all the locations in the citys of SA with the idea of electricity for all no matter if it is paid for or not.Surely then already one could see their was going to be a supply problem.You cannot suddenly just give supply to all these millions of users,without incresing your current supply of substations.The next problem they have is that some of the current substations have had no maintance done on them in the last 20 years.

  • Amanda - 2011-01-07 12:02

    Who did Eskom warn of the problem? Who is not attending to the problem? Eskom and government were aware of the problem for years already. But no, they were more concerned with affirmative action than maintaining the plants or building new plants. Now it becomes the 'consumers' problem. How can we have economic growth if our government cannot deliver basic services?

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