W Cape to take charge of power cuts

The Western Cape’s energy risk-management committee (ERMC) is to be reactivated to deal with the latest wave of Eskom power failures to hit the region, the provincial government announced on Wednesday.

Provincial planning and economic development minister Tasneem Essop said in a statement she has called an urgent meeting for Thursday — with Eskom, the City of Cape Town, the private sector, organised labour and civil society — to discuss how the power failures could be managed this time round.

The ERMC was first set up two years ago to deal with power cuts in the province at that time.

Essop said the committee was a model that worked. ”We managed to save about 400MW per day, which cut down the need to load-shed. I believe the time has come for this committee and the plans to be reactivated.

”The current approach to load-shedding by the city is perceived to be inequitable and largely targeting disadvantaged communities. We need to revert to the principles established two years ago, to ensure fairness through integrated load-shedding schedules between the city and Eskom.”

She said experience has shown that what the public expect from the government is easily accessible, reliable information on the timing of power failures — referred to as ”load-shedding” by the government.

According to Essop’s spokesperson, Nils Flaatten, Thursday’s meeting will examine the previous ERMC plan to see if it is adequate to deal with the latest power cuts. A statement will be issued afterwards.

The most recent population figures show there are 5,3-million people resident in the Western Cape, almost two-thirds of whom live in Cape Town, where demand for domestic and industrial power is highest.

Nationally, homeowners and businesses are being forced to generate their own electricity as the ongoing power failures bring South Africa to a standstill, but suppliers are running out of generators and many do not expect new stocks for weeks, the Sowetan reported on Wednesday.

David Cooksley, a generator engineer and supplier in Johannesburg, told the newspaper that he had run out of stock and even the parts to build them. He said clients had paid for generators that he could not finish building because he did not have the cages in which to mount them.

”We can’t find supplies, alternators, bars, you name it. There is nothing in the country to build new generators with and this spells a waiting period of about eight weeks,” he said. — Sapa

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