Blackouts not on cards for Christmas

South Africans can line up their staycation viewing with no fear of the lights going off. Eskom has confirmed a load-shedding-free Christmas.

The power utility says it will keep the lights on and – by extension – keep the Grinch away from Christmas. It says generation capacity has gone up.

 “Our projections are that there will be no load-shedding, not just during the festive season, but beyond,” Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said yesterday.

He said that this was mainly because Eskom had successfully embarked on an infrastructure maintenance programme.

“Our focused maintenance programme has drastically improved our operational performance.

“In addition, significant progress in our new build projects coming online has contributed to the better outlook,” he said.

Phasiwe said that a total of 1793MW of new capacity was brought into commercial operation from the Ingula units between KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, and Medupi’s unit 5.

“In terms of transmission, 53km of lines have been installed and 1050MVA transformers commissioned. All these factors have enabled the organisation to avoid load-shedding for the past 15 months,” Phasiwe said.

Energy Intensive User Group adviser Shaun Nel said it was expected that there would not be load-shedding in this month because of low demand.

“There hasn’t been load-shedding during the most critical period. Traditionally [December is] one of the lowest demand periods since industry declines anyway,” Nel said.

The announcement of a load-shedding-free festive season comes hot on the heels of a report compiled by Stats SA that envisage a positive outlook for the power supplier. Stats SA released figures showing that electricity generation or production had increased by 2% year-on-year in October this year. It said electricity distribution or consumption had decreased by 0.5% year on year in October.

“Seasonally adjusted electricity generation increased by 1.5% in October 2016 compared with September 2016,” the report said.

Phasiwe said: “We have an excess capacity of between 2,000MW to 5,000MW in the medium term.”

To strengthen its network Eskom commissioned the Kappa-Sterrekus 765kV line, an addition to the Western Cape’s 400kV network. The 765kV is one of the highest voltages used for electricity transfer in the world.

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