Tag: electricity

By Chad Williams for IOL

“We regret to inform you that load shedding Stage 2 will be implemented from 12pm today until Sunday evening. More information to follow shortly.”

If you live in South Africa, the above statement is enough to drive you up the wall. South Africans have been living with rolling blackouts for nearly 15 years.

A recent video of a rugby match in South Africa went viral, and not for the action on the field, but rather for the reaction of South African sports commentators shouting, “load shedding, load shedding”, after the stadium was thrown into darkness.

I have always wondered: Are we as South Africans the only African country battling with almost daily rolling blackouts, which not only disrupt our day-to-day activities, hurts our already battered economy, but also causes an entire nation to live in a constant state of stress?

To my surprise, other African countries are also waking up to darkness. The consensus is that Africa needs power now more than ever.

Botswana

Botswana is also dealing with a debilitating power crisis.

According to icafrica.org, Botswana’s need for electricity grew rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s as a result of fast economic expansion.

The country’s power now comes from the Morupule A power station, which has capacity of 118MW and was completed in 1989. Botswana can also generate about 160MW from diesel, but this is expensive. Peak demand is estimated at over 600MW, so it is reliant on imports, mainly from South Africa.

Zimbabwe and Zambia

According to a 2019 Business Tech report, rolling electricity blackouts lasting 18 hours a day have choked the two economies.

Ballooning debt has left them unable to afford to import enough power to help cushion shortages.

Even if they could, the region’s biggest supplier, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., doesn’t have enough capacity to keep the lights on in its home market, South Africa.

Ghana

In Ghana, dumsor, which loosely translated means ‘off and on’, is a persistent, irregular, and unpredictable electric power outage.

The frequent Ghanaian blackouts are caused by power supply shortage. Ghanaian generating capacity by 2015 was 400-600 megawatts, less than Ghana needed.

Namibia

Namibia’s electricity generation has dropped to below 40% of its capacity as the worst drought in almost a century has hit the country’s own hydropower plant and others in the region reliant on water from dams and rivers, writes Reuters.

An ongoing drought, plus power blackouts at South Africa’s power company Eskom, on which Namibia relies for 70% of its energy requirements, has put the security of the country’s electricity supply at risk.

Mozambique

Mozambique is a resource-rich energy hub, yet rural community access to electricity remains low, and urban centres suffer poor service quality, writes Science Direct.

According to research by Science Direct, an estimated 57% of African households and businesses experience electricity reliability issues such as frequent, unpredictable power outages lasting for hours or days.

Some countries with the largest electricity access deficit, such as Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique, experience at least one power outage per week.

 

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

In a discussion document this week, the group said it would continue to use the historic method of tariff setting, but due to time pressure, there will be no public hearings on the matter.

The proposal comes after Nersa approved a 9.6% tariff increase for Eskom customers which took effect from 1 April 2022. This is separate from the proposed July increase which will apply to municipal customers.

The national energy regulator’s chairperson Nhlanhla Gumede said Eskom’s increase constitutes a 3.49% increase for the 2022/23 year, alongside legacy costs from previous years.

Gumede said this increase was decided on to balance the interests of the economy, consumers, and the utility. The price hikes take the average electricity tariff in South Africa from just over R1.33 per kWh to around R1.46.

Eskom had pushed for a 20.5% tariff increase for the 2023 financial year, warning that the hike is necessary for the continuation of its operations.

On 5 March 2021, Nersa approved a hike of 15.06% for Eskom’s direct customers, which was subsequently implemented on 1 April 2021. A hike of 17.80% for municipalities was implemented on 1 July 2021.

Not transparent

The opposition Democratic Alliance has criticised Nersa’s decision not to have public hearings on the matter, which it says undermines the concept of procedural fairness.

The party’s shadow minister of mineral resources and energy Kevin Mileham said consumers are already struggling to keep the lights on at current electricity prices cost levels.

“Due to the limited ability of municipalities to absorb costs and cushion consumers against electricity tariff increases, the costs will be passed on to the consumer. It is simply unacceptable for tariffs hikes to be imposed on consumers without any public hearings. A cloak-and-dagger operation, carried out without the input of those who would be most affected, is simply not right,” he said.

“Consumers should not be punished for Nersa’s inability to get its house in order on the electricity price methodology. The DA will fight against any attempt to impose an above-inflationary electricity increase on consumers without public participation.”

Union federation Cosatu warned that businesses and households are facing a crisis over rising electricity prices, and face further pain from coming fuel price hikes.

The union said that the 15% increase in electricity from Eskom would push people to “alternatives”, some of which could be dangerous. Meanwhile, businesses – already struggling with rising costs across the board – would struggle to survive the hikes.

“Any tariff increase will squeeze the small economy, businesses will go out of business, workers will be retrenched. People will revert to some unhealthy resources using woods, paraffin,” it said. “We may see an increase of fires in the squatter camps, so it’s a very sad story indeed.”

 

Electricity price hike looms

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has invited stakeholders to comment until Friday (14 January) on Eskom’s proposed tariff increases for the country.

Eskom chief financial officer Calib Cassim has confirmed that the state-owned power utility has applied for an electricity price increase of 20.5% for its 2023 financial year, set to take effect from 1 April 2022.

However, analysts have raised concerns as to what increases will actually be pushed through, with Nersa’s tables showing hikes of as much as 40% depending on how outstanding debts are clawed back.

On 5 March 2021, Nersa approved a hike of 15.06% for Eskom’s direct customers, which was subsequently implemented on 1 April 2021. A hike of 17.80% for municipalities was implemented on 1 July 2021.

Presenting Eskom’s interim results on 15 December, chief executive Andre de Ruyter warned that the seasonality of Eskom’s performance means that there is considerable cost pressure in the second half of the financial year, driven largely by summer maintenance requirements and costs associated with ensuring the security of supply.

He said that while the phased easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions has led to an improvement in financial performance during the first six months of the year, ongoing risks for Eskom’s sales and revenue include supply constraints, load shedding and load curtailment, as well as a constrained economy.

The chief executive said that to achieve independent financial sustainability, remain a going concern and meet debt service requirements on a standalone basis, the price of electricity in South Africa must migrate towards a cost-reflective tariff.

“We have to emphasise that the power system is unreliable and unpredictable due to insufficient maintenance of generation plant over many years. Maintenance outages take around 24 months to plan, and take from three to six months to execute.

“The response to the pandemic prevented us from doing as much maintenance as we would have liked, while prevailing liquidity challenges continue to constrain funds available for maintenance,” he said.

“To date, we have released funding of R8.3 billion for outages during the 2022 financial year, and R8.2 billion for those in 2023, against a requirement of R10.7 billion next year.”

NERSA approves licences for Karpowership

Source: eNCA

The National Energy Regulator has approved three-generation licenses for Karpowership South Africa.

The floating power ship provider has been granted generation licenses for Saldanha Bay, Coega, and Richards Bay.

WATCH | Discussion: Karpowership application denied

But it’s not all systems go for Karpowership SA.

It will need to secure further authorisations before its ships at the three ports can be fully operational and connect to the grid.

Nersa’s decision comes after Karpowership’s applications for environmental approval were refused by the Department of Environment in June.

 

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

Eskom’s proposed electricity tariff changes could see the electricity bill of average South Africans skyrocket, according to energy expert Ted Blom.

Eskom itself has rebutted these projections, however, stating that while certain customers may pay more and others less, the change will not lead to an increase in its revenue.

The power utility plans to reduce the electricity tariff for the peak winter months and hike tariffs for electricity usage during its summer period.

It has also said it wants to replace the inclining block rate tariff system with a new system that charges fixed network costs regardless of usage and separate electricity usage costs.

The inclining block rate system currently means that South African households that use more electricity pay more per kWh than those which use a lower amount of electricity every month.

Removing this would mean that all households would pay the same per kWh of electricity usage, regardless of how much they use each month.

Potential for massive bill shock – Ted Blom
Eskom has said these proposed tariff changes are being implemented to bring the prices consumers pay for electricity in line with the efficient cost of producing power.

Blom, however, has warned that those who do not use much electricity every month may see a significant increase in their monthly electricity bill.

This is because while Eskom has said it will reduce winter tariffs, it only charges these tariffs for three months of the year. During the rest of the year, it charges summer season tariffs, which it has said it plans to hike.

Blom says that depending on how much these tariffs are altered, this may result in a net increase in consumer electricity bills per year.

Additionally, the introduction of a fixed network cost could see those who use relatively little electricity paying much more than they currently do, Blom said.

This is because they will be required to pay fixed monthly costs for being connected to the electricity grid, and this charge will be incurred no matter how much they try to save on electricity usage.

These changes will be most felt by households that use electricity sparingly, Blom said.

Speaking to eNCA, Blom said households that cannot afford to buy a lot of electricity will face a heavy burden if Eskom goes through with these changes.

“Eskom hasn’t provided the exact breakdown, but as an example – on the first 300kWh of electricity, where you used to pay R1.29 you could now pay closer to R2, and that will double the average person’s electricity bill,” he said.

Some customers might pay more or less – Eskom
Speaking to eNCA following Blom’s statements, Eskom electricity pricing specialist Shirley Salvodi said that the changes to the summer and winter tariffs would be revenue-neutral for Eskom.

“The sum of all the changes we are making equals the Nersa-approved revenue requirements,” Salvodi said. “So by slightly reducing the winter rates and increasing the rates for the nine months in the summer, the sum of the two changes is revenue-neutral for Eskom.”

“But some customers might pay more or less, depending on their profile.”

Regarding the inclining block rate tariff changes, Salvodi argued that the projection that some customers will pay double is not strictly correct.

“The statement made that some customers are going to pay double is a bit misleading,” she said. “There are many customers that are actually going to see benefits from the changes we are proposing.”

In response to questions from MyBroadband, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha elaborated on Salvodi’s previous statements.

“The proposed change to our tariffs structure, reducing the three winter months and increasing the nine summer months, is calculated in such a way that the same amount of revenue will be received by Eskom,” he said.

“Eskom will not be earning any additional revenue from this change, and all of the changes must be approved by regulator NERSA.”

Removing the inclining block tariffs and the reasons are clearly spelt out in the power utility’s submission, Mantshantsha said.

“I encourage customers and Mr Ted Blom to read the document, understand the numbers and use the models Eskom has provided on our website.”

Mantshantsha added that customers who do not use a lot of electricity will not be required to pay these fixed charges.

“A point to note is that Eskom is not proposing to introduce fixed charges for low consumption customers, so there is always this tariff option available for these customers,” he said.

Soweto blames non-payment on 1992 accord

Source: 702

Soweto residents have embarked on a protest over electricity cuts by Eskom. The residents blockaded roads and set fire to tyres on Monday morning, causing traffic delays in the area.

The power utility cut off power in Soweto after the municipalities failed to settle their debts. Eskom says it is owed more than R18-billion by the residents.

Soweto residents’ representative King Sibiya says they need a breakdown of the debt from Eskom.

“This is the question we are asking Eskom – if they say we are owing R18-billion, can they Eskom break it down for us?” he said on Twitter.
“Firstly in Soweto, we have plus-minus six malls which are using electricity more than anything, we also have Baragwanath Hospital which is a national hospital, police stations etc.”

Sibiya says they requested a meeting with Eskom but the power utility told them they need the debts to be paid.

Later Eskom conducted an audit on certain parts of the area.

“What we are being charged are estimations, Eskom doesn’t come to our houses and conduct meter readings,” says Sibiya. “In 1992 we signed an accord that the people of Soweto will pay a flat rate of R33.80.”

Meanwhile, Eskom senior manager of customer services in Gauteng Daphne Mokwena says they are not targetting Soweto in particular, but rather residents that are not paying for electricity.

“We are not privy to the 1992 document they are talking about. We have requested via our legal representatives to see the documents but we are still waiting for it. If I haven’t seen it, it does not exist,” she stated.

Responding to meter reading statement, Mokwena says they have been chased out of Soweto when their technicians go there.

She adds when that happens they use the previous meter reading to estimate the following bill.

Source: Fin24

Following the breakdown of some of its power generation units over the weekend, the electricity system will remain “severely constrained” until at least Thursday, Eskom said.

In an update after at midday on Tuesday, Eskom said that these unplanned breakdowns, along with planned maintenance, meant that more than 12 500MW in power generation was offline by Monday evening.

Anything above 9 500MW means that Eskom has to resort to emergency power generation: open cycle gas turbines and pumped storage hydro electrical plants. These are very expensive ways of generating power, particularly gas turbines as they require large quantities of diesel. They can only be used for short periods before diesel and water reserves run out.

By Tuesday morning, the situation had improved to 11 500MW of capacity being offline.

“With the expected return to service of several units today and tomorrow, and with current diesel reserves, the probability of load shedding remain low for the week, but the system remains constraint until at least Thursday,” Eskom said in a statement.

It said that any additional unplanned breakdowns, or shortage of diesel and pumped storage, could result in load shedding at short notice.

Last month, South Africans suffered five days of load shedding after outages at five units. Eskom also resorted to emergency power generation, but then its diesel stocks started running low, which forced it to shed power.

Now Eskom is selling electricity to Zambia

By David McKay for Mining Mx

Zambia is to import 300MW of electricity from Eskom, the South African power utility, for six months in order to ease shortages, said Reuters.

Citing Webster Musonda, MD of Zambia’s electricity company, Zesco, Reuters said imports would begin on 1 October and would cost about $22m per month. “The negotiations have been concluded and we have an offer on the table. We will spread the cost of importing this power to our customers,” says Musonda.

Africa’s second largest copper producer, Zambia has a power deficit of more than 750MW because of low water levels at hydropower dams, said Reuters. Zambia last week announced it would increase the hours for power rationing as water levels continued to fall.

Zambia has historically priced electricity below the cost of production through subsidies. Only in recent years has the country started to gradually raise prices.

In 2017, the country’s energy regulator approved a 75% price hike for electricity retail consumers and introduced a flat 9.30 US cents per kilowatt hour tariff for mining companies, said Reuters.

Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, said in June the country was not slipping into a sovereign debt crisis. “Zambia is not in a position of a crisis,” he told Bloomberg News. “When you find that you are being strangled by debt, you hold back and see how you can realign your position so that in the end you continue being alive, you don’t suffocate.

“That’s where we are now,” he said.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Zambia is growing at the slowest pace in two decades. A drought has lowered water levels at hydroelectric dams whilst earnings from copper – its main export – have slumped following a decline in metal pricing.

City Power hit by virus

Johannesburg residents using pre-paid electricity have been left in the dark after a computer virus hit City Power, rendering users unable to purchase electricity.

The utility’s spokesperson, Isaac Mangena, was cited on News24 as saying “the virus had attacked its database and other software, impacting on most of its applications and networks”.

This resulted in City Power customers being unable to upload pre-paid electricity to their meter boxes.

The City Power website is also affected by the virus.

Mangena also stated that City Power hoped to have resolved the problem by midday on Thursday.

By Jenni Evans for News24

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba is seeking an urgent meeting with the Eskom board over the power utility’s declaration that it will no longer do repairs in places illegally connected to the power grid.

This follows a meeting between Mashaba and Eskom officials on Monday to deal with complaints by Soweto residents about illegal electricity connections, vandalised infrastructure and extended blackouts.

“Due to the complex nature of the issues discussed between myself and the Eskom team, during a meeting at Megawatt Park, it was decided that it would be prudent to include the Eskom board in our deliberations,” said Mashaba in a statement.

“I have therefore requested an urgent meeting with the board of Eskom and its shareholder within the next 24 hours. The team at Eskom has indeed committed to ensuring this does take place.”

Mashaba felt it was important for the city and Eskom to work together to find solutions to issues faced by Sowetans and other residents affected by ongoing blackouts arising from Eksom’s credit management processes.

Last week Eskom threatened that it will not repair infrastructure in areas where there are illegal connections or the safety of staff cannot be guaranteed.

“Eskom will only restore supply to legal and paying customers in the areas, on condition that the community allows safe access to Eskom staff to conduct audits and remove illegal connections,” the statement said.

It was previously reported that Soweto has been ranked as one of the top defaulters in the country, where residents owe Eskom more than R17bn.

Mashaba said last week after Eskom’s warning that he felt compelled to intervene on behalf of residents who will be affected by the actions of a few.

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