Eskom, SABC to give ‘power bulletins’

16 May 2013

Eskom has partnered with the SABC to give South Africans daily real-time information on the power system, the power utility said on Wednesday.

“The new power bulletin initiative announced today aims to encourage South Africans to shift their energy usage during the peak demand period: every evening between 5pm and 9pm,” Eskom said in a statement.

In terms of the agreement, the SABC will use all three of its television channels and 18 radio stations at various times to urge households to help reduce the electricity demand during peak hours.

The bulletins will be aired especially in the mornings and afternoons, Eskom said.

“The power bulletin will be flighted on television immediately after the news, starting with the 5.30pm news bulletin through [to] 7.30pm.”

The announcements, which will follow the weather forecast format, will run for 60 seconds on all three television channels for five days a week until the end of the year.

The radio announcements will be run three times a day – morning, midday and afternoon – and will also continue until December.

“The power bulletin will not replace the power alert campaign that is currently running on eNCA, eTV, DStv, and the SABC television channels.”

Eskom said South Africa experienced the highest demand for electricity during the winter months, particularly at night, when demand increased by more than 3 000 MW in one hour.

This is equivalent to the output of a large power station and more than the total energy use of some neighbouring countries.

“Taking four simple steps over the four hours of the peak period can reduce demand for energy during peak times.”

These steps are: to switch off all geysers and pool pumps during peak hours; to switch off all non-essential lighting; to find alternatives to electrical heaters, such as dressing warmly or using gas heaters; and to respond to alert messages by switching off all appliances not in use.

Eskom said it usually performed most of its planned maintenance in the summer months. However, this winter would be different.

“Eskom will for the first time plan to do extensive, long duration maintenance work to improve the reliability and performance of its power stations.”

This meant the power system would be constrained in the next few months.

“The proposed planned maintenance over the winter period is considered fixed, and must be implemented,” said Eskom CEO Brian Dames.

“We therefore urge all customers to partner with us to save electricity. This will ensure that adequate space is created for the planned maintenance, while ensuring there is sufficient operating reserve.”

“The electricity supply system continues to be constrained, but we have put comprehensive plans in place to manage this,” said Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

“As we approach the winter and make South Africans participate in monitoring their own personal impact, Eskom and the SABC have collaborated to create an exciting initiative to educate and inform consumers about the country’s electricity status,” he said.