Eskom pushes free electricity programme – and hits back at illegal connections in Gauteng

Eskom has launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of its Free Basic Electricity (FBE) programme, in an effort to alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 national lockdown on poor and needy households.

The programme is targeted at giving limited free electricity to indigent households.

Qualifying households, in terms of the government’s policy of providing support to the unemployed, low-earning, the destitute and the elderly, are encouraged to approach their municipalities to register as indigents in order to collect their allocated free basic electricity every month.

“Customers on municipalities’ indigent household registers have the right to collect a minimum 50 kiloWatt hours (kWh) of electricity for free every month, which can also be higher, depending on the municipality.

“Unfortunately a large number of indigent households don’t exercise their right, either because they are unaware of the free basic electricity, or because they have not registered with the municipality,” said the utility’s group executive for distribution Monde Bala.

Once registered with the municipality, the customer’s details are loaded on the Eskom system where they get credited with free electricity tokens.

As at end March 2020, Eskom had 900,000 registered indigent customers for free basic electricity, but only 700,000 people are collecting their FBE tokens.

Eskom is working with municipalities to ensure that indigent households receive their free electricity.

“The partnership with municipalities will go a long way to help cushion the indigent households from the full impact of Covid-19 lockdown,” Bala said.

Customers who qualify for FBE but who are not currently collecting it, must approach their municipality and register to receive their free allocation.

Electricity supply restrictions

Meanwhile, Eskom announced that it will implement measures to restrict electricity supply in Gauteng in order to reduce the extremely high costs associated with repeated equipment failure resulting from overloading.

The implementation of this initiative, will be effected on a rotational basis in order to curb rising costs.

Eskom has identified areas in Gauteng with significantly high non-technical losses mainly in residential areas.

“It is prudent for us to take deliberate measures to significantly reduce the extremely high costs associated with repeated equipment failure resulting from overloading, which costs more as the power is indiscriminately used during peak periods,” Eskom maintenance and operations in the Gauteng Operating Unit Motlhabane Ramashi said on Tuesday.

The power utility continues to record a substantially high trend of energy demand during peak periods in the mornings and evenings between 05h00 and 09h00, and again between 17h00 and 20h00 respectively.

Eskom said its immediate response, is to safeguard its assets from repeated failure and explosions as a result of overloading caused by illegal connections, meter bypasses and tampering with electricity infrastructure that are on an increase.

“This unprecedented measure is necessary to contain the situation. We deem the constant repairs and replacement of equipment that fails before we can realise their investment as unwarranted, and this will not sustain our operations should we continue in this trajectory.”

“This is line with Eskom’s priorities of containing operational costs and improve plant performance,” Ramashi said.

Eskom will continuously monitor the developments to determine any improvements.

The power utility will keep conducting audits, remove illegal connections and act against meter tampering, as well as impose penalties for any transgression among others.

Read: Eskom to restrict electricity supply in Gauteng areas overloaded by illegal connections

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Eskom pushes free electricity programme – and hits back at illegal connections in Gauteng