Firms must help curb Eskom hikes - expert
Cape Town – Companies have an obligation to help Eskom alleviate the strain on the national grid, an expert warned on Tuesday.
Tim James, MD of sustainableIT, said whether we like it or not, all South Africans need to contribute to a collective goal of energy reduction.
He has urged companies to be proactive in reducing their electricity costs. "To contain Eskom's price hikes there is no doubt that companies need to be investing in and adopting energy efficiency as a business priority.
"This will not only assist in alleviating the strain on the national grid, but also help companies contain their own operating costs," James said.
Last Friday, businesses and consumers were sent into a tailspin after a report detailing a drastic rise in electricity tariffs by state-owned power utility Eskom was leaked to the press.
The report, which has not yet been confirmed by Eskom, stated that the company plans a hike of at least 14.6% per year over each of the next five years – more than double the inflation target.
This could climb to 19% if the government introduces its carbon tax as planned.
James said that although lighting and air conditioning are primary sources of electricity wastage, companies should not overlook the impact their IT infrastructure (eg servers and PCs) has on power consumption.
"If businesses start by implementing best practices in their IT environments, they can already make a huge dent in their utility bills," he said.
"By properly power managing a desktop for example, the savings amount to as much as 1kWh per day which at today's average corporate rates is over R1 per day in savings.
"Taking into account thousands of workstations, these numbers add up to significant cost reductions."
Analysis done at one of the top four banks in the country showed that over 90% of their PCs were left running overnight, largely for IT administration purposes.
"A simple, tech solution can enable wake-on-lan technology that reduces PC energy (without interfering with nocturnal security patching) and shut machines down when they aren't required," said James, adding that in this example the monetary savings could be many millions.
James urged companies to start actively investing in such technologies in response to the price hike.
"With the latest round of price hikes and the historic trend over the past few years and what is still to come, there is no doubt that customers need to be taking a serious look at investing in energy efficient technologies.
"Eskom rebates are available to assist companies through this process and those that don't invest, do so at their peril," he warned.