Tag: Eskom

Source: News24

Power utility Eskom has asked the public to reduce electricity usages after a number of generation units tripped, leading to a constrained power supply.

“This morning one generation unit each at the Kendal and Tutuka power stations tripped, adding to the Tutuka unit that tripped yesterday evening,” it said, adding that teams are working to return these units to service.

A generation unit at Medupi that tripped on Tuesday evening has been returned to service.

“Any additional breakdowns will compromise Eskom’s ability to supply the country through the peak demand period of 17:00 – 21:00. This constrained supply situation may persist through the weekend. ”

Eskom has not instituted nationwide load shedding since the start of the lockdown in late March after power usage plunged as much of the economy was shut down. But it has been cutting power to localised areas in what it calls load reduction.

By Sibongile Khumalo for Fin24 

Eskom says it has taken the unprecedented decision to restrict electricity supply to parts of residential areas around Johannesburg, where unusual surges in consumption have been recorded.

There has been a trend of surges during peak usage periods, between 05:00 and 09:00, and between 17:00 and 20:00, leading the power utility to suspect a link to illegal connections.

Eskom says the decision to restrict supply was taken to safeguard equipment and costs associated with repairs, as power is being used indiscriminately during these peak periods. It will be implemented on a rotational basis.

“This unprecedented measure is necessary to contain the situation. This is in line with our priorities of containing operational costs and [improving] plant performance,” said Motlhabane Ramashi, Senior Manager for Maintenance and Operations in Gauteng.

Illegal connections and meter tampering have been identified as potential causes for the unusual uptick in usage in parts of Diepsloot, Braamfischerville, Ivory Park, parts of Soweto, the Vaal and Orange Farm.

Eskom previously stated that it seen a marked drop in electricity demand since the beginning of the lockdown, helping it to avoid load shedding. The company said the high usage of electricity could not be attributed to the current lockdown.

Illegal connections and non-payment for electricity are some of the challenges eating into Eskom’s income, and the company has projected a R20 billion full-year loss for the 2020 financial year.

In a recent interview with MyBroadband, energy expert Ted Blom said he expects that as mining and smelting come back online under new lockdown regulations, the heavy demand increases could see Eskom face problems as soon as next week.

As the country heads into winter, a lack of maintenance due to hard lockdown and problems associated with reactivating disabled power units “will result in heavy load-shedding”, Blom said. He expects “transformers to blow up and boilers to malfunction”.

“I would not be surprised if we see the worst load-shedding we have ever seen by the end of June,” he said.

Eskom has a number of issues:

  • Under Level 4 regulations, heavy industries such as mining and smelting are coming back online
  • The utility will need to reactivate generation units which were turned off due to the significant drop in electricity demand – of 10-12GW – caused by the national lockdown
  • They have not conducted extensive maintenance on infrastructure during the lockdown period, and cannot increase its generation capacity
  • The utility is expected to need another bailout, which the country can ill-afford

Blom says that, although new CEO Andre De Ruyter stated the new maintenance model should take around 18 months, the Eskom executive has drastically misconstrued the scope of the problem – and that it would take longer than five years to resolve Eskom’s reliability issues.

Source: Randburg Sun

The Eskom website is currently down as Stage 4 loadshedding continues  “until further notice”

The utility released a statement on Twitter this morning indicating that their systems were currently not working, including their website – where customers can check their load-shedding schedule.

Yesterday the power utility announced that loadshedding had been upgraded to Stage 4 after the Koeberg Power Station tripped.

Stage 4 was implemented due to a shortage of capacity and unplanned breakdowns. “We expect that load-shedding at various stages may continue into the weekend.”

Consumers were additionally frustrated by the court’s ruling against the energy regulator, stating that Eskom could have an 18,9% tariff hike. The hike will allow Eskom to generate R219.5-billion in revenue, R29,2-billion more than Nersa’s hike would allow.

Eskom has 60 days to apply to the regulator to increase the tariffs it can charge customers and the regulator must pay Eskom’s costs, the ruling said.

By Sinenhlanhla Jalibane for The MediaShop

Loadshedding has once again become one of the most used buzzwords in South Africa. While we wait for government to attain a better solution to their “technical problems” and revert with plans to overcome this crisis, loadshedding continues to have dire implications on everyone, particularly for television advertisers and broadcasters.

Advertising budgets have already been reduced but now with the power out, what does this mean for advertisers, and the media industry in general?

1. Viewership decreases

Television indisputably remains the largest media consumption channel in South Africa. It is still the most effective way of reaching a higher number of audiences at a high frequency. However, it is no secret that such media platforms are highly affected by loadshedding.

Viewership is a client’s first concern when there is a blackout. It means that millions of South African TV households are off, reducing the potential TV audience of a particular channel or programme which has a huge effect for advertisers.

We have been experiencing stage 2 and 4 of loadshedding recently. With that said, it is imperative to remember that having these power cuts means not reaching a household for at least two or more hours during each blackout. This is of serious concern especially when power is cut during prime time, which decreases viewership even more significantly. It results in adverts only being seen by a handful of people, who might not even be the target audience for the brand being advertised, which is then seen as wastage by many.

Britta Reid commented on a research article in 2019 published on The MediaOnline from The Broadcast Research Council, on how adult ARs for the 18h00 and 20h00 dayparts were affected. She commented that about 2% of adults on the BRC TAMS panel were flagged as having experienced power cuts during stage two, compared with 15% of adults during stage four . This equates to a huge number of audiences being lost due to loadshedding and it doesn’t seem like it will get any better.

2. Concern over reach

Secondly, clients have become sceptical about whether their brand will be seen by the right audiences as loadshedding makes it difficult to plan schedules. I remember once when Eskom had promised two hours of loadshedding but it went off for 3h30mins. This left me wondering how many TV adverts were being aired during this time that I would have missed.

Clients will (if they haven’t already) start questioning the value they are getting from advertising if they lose audiences during loadshedding.

Yes brands are aware that performance will be affected (not that they’re happy about it) but there is unfortunately nothing that marketers and broadcasters can do at this point, as it is beyond their control.

3. Even digital is affected

Lastly, cell phone network coverage has also been getting disrupted and it seems this will continue to be the case during our electricity crisis. It’s making our jobs as marketers even more difficult. Just as we were trying to chase audiences in the digital space, it is now going to be harder to reach them whenever we’d like to.

We all love our smartphones, but their battery life is not as great as we’d like it to be. Power banks and portal chargers can help sustain battery life, but with port connectivity it seems like it would be a struggle to get advertising messages across audiences.

People would also rather save their battery to ensure for instance that their alarm wakes them up in the morning, rather than to scroll through their phones only to come across adverts that will deplete their battery even further.

So what do we do?

While the country has enjoyed a few days of no loadshedding now, there is still an unnerving sense of uncertainty around Eskom’s sustainability. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his SONA 2020 address that the Eskom issue was unavoidable. This shows that we’ve got a long way to go and for brands, we need to think of alternative ways to reach our audiences.

It seems like the old school “wireless” radios would be of good use at this point for people to still consume news during loadshedding and this, without a doubt will cause an increase in listenership on the radio.

Maybe it’s also time to put more faith into apps such as EskomSePush to plan around most areas that are experiencing loadshedding to ensure audiences are not lost. Imagine scheduling adverts to be aired on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at the same peak time as loadshedding is scheduled? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Source: Engineering News

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said last week that a Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) proposal to transfer some of Eskom’s debt to state-asset manager, Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages civil servant pensions, is a “good idea”, adding that all pensions – not just public sector pensions – should be considered.

While the proposal originally put forward by the labour union federation to more than halve the struggling power utility’s R450-billion debt-burden did not feature in the Budget, the minister was asked about it at a pre-Budget briefing with journalists.

While Mboweni said he did not want to talk much about Eskom – the key takeaway from his Budget was a proposed three-year R160-billion cut in public-sector wage bill – Mboweni said Cosatu’s proposal seemed like a good idea which called for more debate.

“If we go the pension route – it must be all of us. It can’t (only be) public servant pensions, it must be all pensions,” Mboweni said. “I think it is a good idea – must be encouraged. Other institutions can look at the option,” he added.

The minister said the extent to which the PIC’s existing exposure to Eskom debt would be converted to equity would move the debate further.

The PIC, which manages over R2-trillion in assets, invests on behalf of government employee pension funds.

The original proposal by Cosatu, distributed to media on February 3, proposed a debt package to reduce Eskom’s debt from R450-billion to R200-billion through the creation of a special purpose finance vehicle, involving a social compact between government, the PIC, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Industrial Development Corporation.

While the union at one stage expected that President Cyril Ramaphosa would make an announcement about the plan in his State of the Nation Address earlier in the month, it later said that negotiations would continue for a few more weeks.

Nazmeera Moola, head of SA investments at Investec Asset Management, said on Thursday that while she did not think the Cosatu proposal was a bad plan, any debt restructuring plan devised for Eskom would only be a temporary solution for the power utility’s many problems. She believes Eskom needs an operational plan if public and private asset managers are going to back it.

Moola was speaking at News24 Frontline’s panel discussion on the Budget on Thursday. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Cosatu’s Parliamentary Coordinator Matthew Parks also took part in the discussion, led by News24’s editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson.

“I strongly believe that Eskom’s issues are not just financial. Financial issues are not the biggest problem – there are operational issues, there are corruption issues,” Moola said.

“Without an operational plan for Eskom, a financial plan is a temporary band-aid. If we just lift the debt of Eskom and leave it operating as it is, we will be in exactly the same position in five years’ time,” Moola said.

Impact investing

She said converting PIC debt to equity, “with a sound operational plan”, may make sense.

Things get tricky when it comes to private funds, which are defined contribution funds – meaning members are entitled to what they contributed, Moola said.

Support from the private sector in the form of impact investing could be an option, Moola explained.

“This [impact investing] is something all asset managers, including ourselves, are on board with. This idea that you can use long-term contractual savings to make investments in the economy, that raises potential growth and gives members adequate returns,” she said. But for this the private sector must be convinced that there is governance, profitability and that entities are run in a manner that makes sense. Examples of impact investing are funds that are invested in infrastructure projects across Africa, she explained.

Moola said this is a better option than the prescription of assets – which dictates to pension funds what to be invested in, even if the financial return is not viable.

Similarly, Gordhan stressed the importance of repairing operations at state entities. “Whether it is Transnet, Eskom or SAA, all of them have damaged operations because the focus was on stealing and not on making entities as efficient as they could be,” he said. Once entities operate efficiently, they can make money and be less dependent on the fiscus, he added.

Commenting on the proposal of using pension funds to deal with Eskom’s debt, Gordhan said that using pension money is just one dimension of the “ultimate solution” being sought. “These things [State-owned enterprises] need to start operating,” he said.

Gordhan also called for stakeholders to engage in meaningful debate to find creative solutions, and not to be distracted by the “bogey woman” or prescribed assets, being touted as an option. “We can find answers. It is not about prescribed assets versus something else,” he said.

No blank cheques

Parks shed more light on the Cosatu proposal, saying that it should be a combination of bonds and equity investments in Eskom. He said it was not a bailout or a “blank cheque” for Eskom. It instead should be considered as “conditional” investment, which all players – government and the private sector – can contribute to.

“We want the PIC to have a stake in Eskom, with a seat on the board, to force Eskom to restructure, clean up, deal with corruption and wasteful expenditure,” said Parks. Currently there are 30 conditions to this proposal, he added.

By Botho Molosankwe for IOL

Eskom has hit back at allegations made against it by organisers of the Soweto Shutdown who claimed that the power utility’s bullying tendencies were the reason they had taken to the streets.

The Electricity Crisis Movement had planned to paralyse Soweto on Tuesday saying Eskom treats them terribly compared to people living in areas such as Sandton.

While the power utility is battling financially, everything was blamed on the Soweto debt and as result, the area was load shed longer and frequently compared to other areas, said the Movement’s Trevor Ngwane.

“Eskom’s problems did not start with the Soweto debt although every cent and billion counts. Eskom, just like many State-Owned Enterprises, has problems with corruption and mismanagement but they’re using Soweto debt as a fig leaf cover up.

“Another thing is that if a substation explodes or needs maintenance, they don’t send someone to repair it on the grounds that Soweto residents are not paying.

“It is a myopic strategy to let infrastructure go into disrepair; it’s the shortsightedness and arrogance of Eskom. Soweto people are not paying because they are poor,” he said.

However, the power utility came out guns blazing, saying Soweto currently owes Eskom R18-billion despite the fact that they scrapped the township’s debt twice in the past with an agreement that customers will start paying.

That, however, has not yielded the desired results hence the huge debt, Eskom said.

“We have however agreed to park the debt for those customers on split pre-paid meters on condition that they are loyal in purchasing electricity from Eskom vendors and not bypassing the meters for a period of 36 months.”

Eskom also said the government also provides free electricity to indigent people but that was a process administered by municipalities who uses their own criteria to identify deserving customers.

“In the case of Soweto, the City of Johannesburg administers this process. Customers are encouraged to partake so they can benefit as this will alleviate pressure.”

Ngwane also accused Eskom of loadshedding Soweto frequently and longer than other areas as a form of punishment for their debt, something that the power utility denies.

According to Eskom, load shedding follows a schedule on the power utility’s website. However, sometimes power outages occur due to network faults, vandalism and theft of infrastructure outside load shedding, the power utility said.

Eskom also said they have over the years tried to disconnect those who are not paying but that became unsafe for their staff as some residents resisted that effort.

“We have customers who are honouring their payments on monthly basis however most are not.

“In some cases, those that we managed to disconnect simply reconnected themselves and unfortunately this meant they had to be billed for their consumption and since it was not paid, it also accumulated interest.

“Eskom is however still disconnecting all customers found to have bypassed and bridged meters as well as illegal connections.

“It is to be noted that there has been numerous interventions supported by the Department of Public Enterprises in the past yielding no positive results on the growing debt. We are currently converting post-paid meters to prepaid as mentioned above in order to stop the debt from growing further.”

The Shutdown of Soweto that the Movement had planned on Tuesday in response to their displeasure with Eskom, however, failed to take off.

In one instance, the South African Police Services and Joburg Metro Police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse a group of about 30 protesters who were trying to block an intersection in Orlando.

By Khulekani Magubane for Fin24

After President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address last week under the shadow of an under-performing economy, Members of Parliament jostled over whether he was confronted by near-impossible odds or complicit in South Africa’s economic quandary.

MPs held the first day of the SONA 2020 debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa failed to capitalise on the optimism at the beginning of his presidency, as economic growth slowed, and direct foreign investment dropped along with tax revenues and employment.

“I am not going to stand here and say that this happened on your watch, Mr President. That would be far too kind. It didn’t just happen on your watch, it happened by your own hand. You, sir, put us in this situation,” claimed Steenhuisen.

Ïn Steenhuisen’s view, most of the positive announcements Ramaphosa made during his SONA were merely DA policies that the president co-opted and appropriated as his own.

“Euthanasia is never easy, but sometimes it’s the most humane option. On Thursday night you should have switched off Eskom’s life support machine, and perhaps supported the DA’s electricity plan, which takes power from the state and gives it to the people,” Steenhuisen said.

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa’s newly announced sovereign wealth fund was only a great idea for a nation that had a healthy budget, citing Norway and Saudi Arabia as examples.

“But we are running a budget deficit and spiralling deeper and deeper into debt. Where will the money for a sovereign wealth fund come from, Mr President? From your own bank account?” Steenhuisen asked.

Speaking after Steenhuisen, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu sprang to the president’s defence, saying that Steenhuisen could not expect the president to take his policies from the DA’s election manifesto.

Mthembu said Ramaphosa’s SONA speech focused on the energy crisis, youth unemployment, growing the economy and building a capable state.

“We welcome government’s plan to ensure that Eskom works to restore its operational capabilities, while implementing measures that will fundamentally change the trajectory of energy generation in our country such as putting in place measures to enable municipalities in good financial standing to procure their own power from independent power producers,” said Mthembu.

Mthembu added that the government was moving to respond to unemployment, which he said is high because of the “grossly imbalanced structure of the economy”.

This is exacerbated by the skills mismatch that is so prevalent in the country, he added.

By Barbara Friedman for CapeTalk

Eskom’s new spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha has acknowledged that the power utility’s workforce is bloated.

Speaking to CapeTalk radio, Mantshantsha – who was once the utility’s biggest critic – said that after the board changed in 2018, and many of those fingered for mismanagement or wrongdoing were axed or resigned, Eskom had a thorough look at the organisation’s make-up.

“The outcome was that as Eskom, we alone are not able to service this debt of R450-billion. We need the government to come in and pitch in some money.”

This resulted in Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni allocating R69-billion of the budget in three installments per annum. A staff audit was conducted and the outcome was that Eskom had 16 000 people more than was needed.

“The government said OK, don’t touch them. Focus on the power stations,” says Mantshantsha.
“The final call comes from the shareholder in all businesses. And in this case, the shareholder is the government.”

 

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.

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