Eskom warns power system severely constrained

Posted On Thursday, 15 May 2014 18:38 Published by
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Eskom on Thursday warned of a "severely constrained" power system due to the unavailability of some of its generating units.

Collin Matjila

"The power system is severely constrained today due to the unavailability of some of our generating units, and Eskom calls on consumers to urgently switch off electrical heaters, geysers, pool pumps and all non-essential appliances. We require voluntary savings of at least 10% in order to manage demand," the utility said in a statement.

The parastatal said it had noted rising demand, especially during peak hours as the cold weather sets in.

While it was taking all the necessary steps available to keep the lights on, it required partnership with customers to ensure that electricity usage is reduced.

"We are on track in terms of our planned maintenance schedule and have begun scaling it down to prepare for winter, while also managing unplanned outages that add more pressure on an already tight system."

Eskom will use all necessary emergency resources at its disposal, but should the demand not decrease, load shedding will be implemented as a last resort to protect the national grid from a total shutdown.

In the event that load shedding becomes necessary, Eskom will use the published load shedding schedules, which are available on the Eskom website (www.loadshedding.eskom.co.za) for its customers. Municipal customers were being encouraged to consult their respective municipalities for their schedules.

Eskom customers can also contact the customer call centre on 0860 037 566. The utility will provide regular updates on the status of the power system through various media platforms throughout the day.

Meanwhile, Eskom is awaiting a determination in May from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) on its submission for the evaluation and approval of the regulatory clearing account (RCA) balance.

This is for its previous multi-year price determination (MYPD2) control period [between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2013].

The RCA submission was made during the last quarter of 2013 in line with NERSA rules (MYPD methodology).

The RCA is a regulatory mechanism that reconciles the variance between projected and actual revenue and certain costs, as the price determination is initially based on projections and assumptions.

Once the application is submitted, the variances are subject to a prudency review by NERSA.

The mechanism allows Eskom to adjust for the over or under recovery to ensure that both Eskom and the customer are treated fairly.

"The under or over recovery is then recovered through the electricity tariffs in the following year or subsequent years. Customers could experience an increase or decrease in the price of electricity as a result thereof," said Eskom.

Eskom Acting CEO Collin Matjila said the mechanism was a common feature in electricity regulation worldwide.

"We will endeavour to keep all stakeholders, especially our customers, informed of any developments on NERSA's decisions on the RCA balance and subsequent tariff adjustments as decisions are made. It is our understanding that NERSA has since undertaken a prudency review of the application that will inform the balance of the RCA," he explained.

Once the balance is approved, a decision will have to be made regarding the timing of the liquidation or recovery of such RCA balance through an adjustment of the tariffs by either increasing or decreasing the tariffs compared to what it otherwise would have been.

It is anticipated that this adjustment is likely to commence no later than from 1 April 2015.

In its last application, Eskom applied to the regulator to increase its tariffs by 16% for the period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2018. Last year, Eskom applied to Nersa to increase its tariffs by 16% for the period April 1, 2013 to 31 March 2018.

Eskom was granted an 8% increase over a five year period.

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