Eskom says it has too much electricity in the early hours of the morning, and wants to work with business to change the time of day at which electricity is consumed.
Speaking on BusinessDayTV, Andrew Etzinger, senior GM of Eskom, said: “During the wee hours of the morning…we actually have so much power available, because demand is low, that we are actually needing to trip generators off the grid, because there is simply too much (power).”
He said that a conversation needs to be around incentivising industry to shift towards those hours of the morning.
Etzinger said that the power utility aims to widen its incentivised ‘Demand Response’ programme which asks industrial users to cut back on consumption when “things become tight”.
He said that, to date, Eskom has approached its top 150 customers by size, but the group is extending this programme to its top 500 customers.
Etzinger said that a partnership with South African business is vital in order to keep the lights on.
Winter is here
In a separate interview on CNBC Africa, Etzinger said the Eskom is well prepared to face the cold winter.
He said that while the cold weather puts a lot of extra pressure on the grid, because of an increase in heating devices, and gets darker hours for longer… “that’s normal for this type of year. From Eskom’s side we are well prepared”.
“The worst case scenario would be a cold front over the whole country, that sits for a couple of days. And if that’s during the week, we would be in trouble in the early evening,” the Eskom spokesperson said.
He said that Eskom could cope with weekends. The natural demand is lower, because business is offline.
He said that the rolling blackouts occurred in March, this year, and in 2008. He said that in the summer, the demand for electricity was steady, “if you have a problem, it lasts the whole day.
“Winter is different, if you have a problem, it lasts an hour or two maximum,” he said adding that it wasn’t too disruptive in an early evening scenario, referencing 8-5 businesses.
“We can cope with short spikes in demand,” Etzinger said.
However, acting Eskom CEO Collin Matjila on Thursday (5 June) warned that the country still remains vulnerable and it will be the same during winter.
“While we continue with maintenance as part of our strategy to have remaining capacity… we will see a reduction in the maintenance schedule.”
On March 6, the power utility introduced deliberate power cuts for the first time in six years, said Matjila.
“We project from information received from weather experts that this winter is likely to be the same as last winter,” he said.
“We are not expecting a severe winter.”
Even so, measures were being taken to ensure the winter demand was met.
“We are better prepared to assure South Africans of our ability to supply electricity,” the acting CEO said.