Eskom outage 'was not due to load shedding'

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

POWER outages in several areas of Johannesburg yesterday morning were not due to load shedding, but were caused by too great a strain on distribution equipment as a result of Eskom's constant blackouts that occurred earlier this year.

A malfunction at City Power's Kelvin substation caused outages in several areas including Highlands North, Halfway Gardens, Houghton, Dunkeld, Rosebank, Bez Valley, Killarney, Illovo, Atholl and Glenhazel.

An industry analyst said that the main issue was that a large portion of the electricity distribution infrastructure was damaged by the load shedding that occurred earlier this year.

"At lot of the equipment such as switching gear, transformers and gauges were not designed to be switched off too frequently. A lot of the equipment is also old and hasn't been replaced since it was first installed in the 1950s," the analyst said.

A single transformer cost between R20 million and R30 million, and many of the municipalities are either underfunded or are merely reluctant to embark on new investments.

A 15-year-old motion by government to hand over the distribution of electricity to regional electricity distributors (REDs) has not gone down well with local governments and they have done everything to block the motion.

Government has decided to put a hold on establishing six REDs after a messy situation in Cape Town.

Members of Parliament have accused the minerals and energy department of sneaking the controversial REDs scheme in without consultation.

"Local governments would lose a huge source of revenue if REDs were implemented. They won't invest in equipment if there is a chance of it being taken over," the analyst said.