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Eskom denied another price increase as concern about grid shutdown grows

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has rejected Eskom’s application for a 25 % tariff hike for the 2015-16 financial year.

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South Africa’s electricity crisis has already cost the economy billions and has resulted in job losses as load shedding becomes a way of life across the country.

Energy expert Ted Blom warned Nersa at the public hearings about Eskom’s application for a further hike in tariffs that the national grid is in danger of shut down.

“According to my estimate, South Africa’s weekend or overnight demand is around about 22 GW (gigawatts). The peak demand is 35.5 GW as we are told by Eskom – the winter demand,” said Blom.

“Power generators in working order comprise roughly 40% of Eskom’s fleet. Fair condition, 12% of the fleet. Poor condition, 21% of the fleet, critical condition, 26% of the fleet.

If you add up the fair and roadworthy sets, you would get around 20 GW – the balance is poor and critical,” he said.

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The normal safety margin around the world is 15%, that is roughly 6.5 GW.

Eskom’s new winter strategy will only have a 1 000 MW safety margin, and it is roughly 2.5% of what is considered an appropriate safety margin.

“So according to that, and I am willing to challenge anybody – I am forecasting that there is a better than 50 % probability of a total grid collapse,” concluded Blom.

Trade union Solidarity has issued a “grid shut down check list and believes members of the public should consider being prepared for a shut down even if there was a slim chance of a shut down occurring.

Earlier this year, Eskom conducted Operation Breaking Dawn in which Eskom ran simulation exercises in preparation for a national blackout.

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