Illegal connections choke Eskom

2012-07-30 14:31

Pretoria - The extreme cold weather experienced across South Africa has resulted in a huge increase in national electricity expenditure, power utility Eskom said on Monday.

Chief executive Brian Dames told a business executives' meeting in Pretoria that the power consumption bill between 17:00 and 21:00 daily had been staggering.

"This is what has been happening in this winter. We know that we are experiencing extreme weather in the country. The big issue for us (Eskom) is about the time between 5pm and 9pm every night," he said.

"Between 5 o'clock and around 7.30 in the evening every night we use as much electricity as most of our neighbouring countries combined just in those few hours. In some cases it's in excess of 3 000 megawatts," said Dames.

He said the substantial consumption was largely driven by the use of swimming pool pumps and electric heaters.

"We have been putting specific tips focused on what's happening every night and how we can save energy. We don't need swimming pool pumps running during those hours," he said.

"Every night we are keeping all the power stations available, just to meet the highest hour at night with the highest demand. After 9pm most of the stations come down to minimum power (output) - we all go to bed," said Dames.

"We think as a country we should consider changing our working hours. We may offer companies special fees and rates to use electricity from about 10 at night to 4 o'clock in the morning," he said.

Dames said the power utility had been well prepared for the emergencies during the snow and severe storms in parts of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape and Free State.

"We prepared so well for that. Eskom people were deployed to the remote parts of the country in helicopters and vehicles for the first time. When the roads were snowed (under), our people were there already," he said.

Eskom's preparedness ensured minimal disruption of electricity in the communities affected by snow and storms, said Dames.

However, he lamented the illegal connections to the power grid, which he said were rampant in the townships, and the theft of cables.

"We do have a challenge in our townships. Most our communities who experienced not having power in winter... it had to do with illegal power connections.

"These connections overload our network so we cannot meet the supply due to uncontrolled demand," he said.

Dames said there had been a steady decline in electricity usage for the first half of this year, compared to 2011.

"Year on year, we have had a seen a negative electricity growth of 3%. Electricity use for 2012 has been negative than last year."

Dames said South Africa had not had enforced power shut downs caused by a shortage of electricity since April 2008.

"We have had adequate power in the country and demand has been met. The lights have stayed on this winter, they stayed on during the last winter and we intend they stay on for the rest of the year," he said.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said the government is committed to keeping the lights on even though power generation was under pressure.

"I trust we shall all heed the call for efficient and prudent usage of electricity. We remain resolute in our efforts to keep the lights on during this supply-constrained environment we are currently in," he said.


  • vernon.samuel.7 - 2012-07-30 15:11

    Electricity consumption is decreasing year on year and yet they are asking for another 14 percent annual increase! So again the legal users get punished for the illegal users. This is the problem of the police and justice system - not the taxpayer! Twat.

  • Adil Smit - 2012-07-30 15:19

    Did ESCOM not spend R39 million on a staff party recently?

      blou.johnny - 2012-07-30 23:27

      ...correct... ...Eskom-Mafia at work... ...robbing the consumers...

  • Simamkele Sammysemzin Ka Takane - 2012-07-30 15:24

    its funny cause eskom never bother about the areas that are illegally connecting electicity let alone the former employees that are selling eletricity coupons in the locations! now we the paying customers must suffer cause they want to throw lavish multimillion rand parties for their staff! voetsek man! incompetent morons!

      blou.johnny - 2012-07-30 23:36 management skills... planning skills... maintenance skills...

  • Zahir - 2012-07-30 18:38

    And then what is eskom doing about it?

  • Sakhiwo - 2012-07-31 05:43

    Eskom should do a follow-up on local municipalities.They are the ones that they neglect the problem of illegal connections

  • flysouth - 2012-08-21 20:06

    "Eskom people were deployed to the remote parts of the country in helicopters and vehicles for the first time" The man is so dumb he is blissfully unaware of what went before - like all low intellects he can envisage nothing that he does not see before him today - right here - right now! Eskom set up a fleet of aircraft and helicopters in the late 1970s/early 1980s at Grand Central airport for exactly this kind of task. Even before establishing the hangar and offices as a flight operations base, they had aircraft for line inspection and repair and to provide fast transportation of technicians etc. Please, we need people who have brains and do not lie to polish their own marble.

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