Joburg looks beyond Eskom to beat load shedding

The City of Johannesburg says it has been kept in the dark about Eskom’s latest round of load shedding and is now looking at alternative ways to keep the lights on.

In a statement on Wednesday (16 October), the city’s mayor, Herman Mashaba, said that he was looking to reach an independent agreement with a local power station to offset the outages.

“Kelvin Power Station is an independent power producer that the city had been contracted to for the procurement of additional electricity as and when required. Upon taking office, Eskom withdrew from funding this arrangement and left the city to foot the bill,” he said.

“We have informed Eskom that we reject their position of refusing our request to offset load shedding with independently generated power, and are willing to proceed to the courts to fight for the residents of Johannesburg to receive this benefit for which they are already paying.

“If our residents are paying for it, and it is not being generated by Eskom, there is no rational basis for preventing us from using the 200MW produced at Kelvin to mitigate the crippling effects of load shedding.”

Mashaba said that the 200MW is equivalent to what Johannesburg has ‘shed’ during stage 2 load shedding.

New contract

Over above the use of this 200MW, Mashaba said that a team from his office is engaging the Kelvin power station to see whether a new contract could be negotiated that would see its output increased and sold to the city at a cheaper rate than Eskom.

If this is achieved, the city has the license to procure 600MW from Kelvin which has the ability to prevent all load shedding up to and including Stage 6 (load shedding), he said.

“Despite their inability to provide the country with a stable supply of electricity, Eskom’s tariffs have risen by a compounded 368% over the past decade. In the beginning of 2019, I opposed Eskom’s tariff proposal of 13.1% on behalf of our residents whose household income is under siege. The response was to increase the tariff further to 15%.

“The reality is that South Africans are paying for the failure and corruption that has crippled Eskom over many years. We are being made to pay through increasing tariffs and the loss of economic growth and job creation which will inevitably follow, particularly with the uncertainty,” Mashaba said.

Eskom announced surprise load shedding on Wednesday, saying that stage 2 outages would be implemented between 09h00 and 23h00.

The power utility knew of power constraints since the weekend, when equipment failures led to low volumes of coal being supplied to the Medupi power station, limiting the generating capacity to approximately half the station output.

Read: Eskom explains why load shedding is back

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Joburg looks beyond Eskom to beat load shedding