BETHAL – Eskom has made it clear that they will not increase the NMD because they are not satisfied with the payment agreement from GMM, according to DA councillor, Ms Mariaan Chamberlain.
While residents and businesses still struggle daily with no electricity, the appointed service provider, Enpower Machite, has finally been given the green light on the 16.2 appointment by Gert Sibande District Municipality.
“This means that Enpower Machite JV has been appointed as a service provider for the management, operation and maintenance of the entire electricity distribution network of Bethal and eMzinoni; including revenue enhancement,” said Ms Tess Maroos, communication and stakeholder relations manager for Enpower Machite.
Although this is a step in the right direction to solve Bethal and eMzinoni’s electricity woes, residents are not happy with the implementation of the ripple control on geysers and split meters.
The ripple control is a centralised system that allows the service provider to switch off geysers during periods of high demand.
“The initial system was already installed in 1987, so we are just reinstating it. Currently, there are about 2 500 geyser controllers installed in Bethal.
“Once we have implemented a more adequate load-shedding schedule and we are happy that the risk of extended power outages is mitigated, we will be able to rather switch off some geysers during peak periods instead of switching off the entire house,” said Ms Tess Maroos.
She said that geysers will be switched off for about three hours at a time and will be rotated to ensure that there is adequate time to reheat the water.
“If every house contributes, the risk of cold water is very low. We therefore need enough geysers to control,” said Ms Maroos. According to Ms Maroos, the municipal bylaws allow for a municipality to do geyser control.
The OHS Act determines that a person has to be authorised by the 16.2 appointee to ensure that he or she is competent and adequately trained to perform network switching.
All switching instructions have to be done through a central network control room.
“Enpower Machite has developed a new load-shedding schedule and will be ultimately accountable to ensure that all switching is done through a centralised control system to ensure the health and safety of all,” concluded Ms Maroos.
Ms Chamberlain said installing the ripple control is a matter of saving electricity.
“Installing the ripple control into your homes would mean the municipality could control the electricity usage by switching off your geysers at a specific time of the day when the demand should get too high. This would not be for longer than a maximum of two hours. It is an electricity saver method.
“However, to get this system now off the ground from scratch would be an extraordinary financial cost. The system is normally computerised and needs maintenance,” said Ms Chamberlain.
She said years back all Secunda homes had the ripple control installed, but due to different reasons, it was phased out. She had also explained that normally there would be three cables consisting of a live, geyser and neutral outside in your box.
“Bethal does not have boxes but breakers on the pole. An extra cable would be connected at the circuit breaker, down the pole to your DB box, which means more opportunity for cable theft.”
She said she can understand that there are a lot of people who are against it and voice notes making the rounds that it is against one’s constitutional rights.
She also spoke about the new split meters that are being installed and that there is much hesitation from the public about these meters.
However, she feels that installing these meters will stop tampering and bridging of meters.
“It works the same as the normal pre-paid meter. The main meter is installed outside in your box, you get your tag which is plugged into your home. You buy your tokens and punch it in,” said Ms Chamberlain.
“I understand there are people with pre-paid meters that are fully functioning and who see no need for the meters to be replaced, but these split meters are controlled by the contractor and will be able to see if the meters are being tampered with.”
She said these meters are a good thing and that it is a matter of saving electricity.
Ms Chamberlain explained that this will not change the electricity problems overnight because it is time-consuming to ensure all premises are on the same system.
She said the people do not understand what service provider Enpower Machite has done since they have been appointed as service providers.
“An amount of R10-million has already been put into this project through fixing cables, transformers and finding problems within the substations.”
“Our biggest problem is the high electricity demand. When the demand gets too high, it means the system is overloaded. When the system is overloaded, the transformer will automatically trip.”
“I feel sorry for the residents of Bethal, they have all my sympathy. It is not nice to be in this cold and not even have as much as a hot meal,” said Ms Chamberlain.
In the meantime, residents have taken to groups to voice their frustration of the long ongoing electricity battles.
“We are more without power than with power, yet our electric bills stay the same. It is extremely unfair. Why every evening?” asked a resident.
Another resident said that it is a battle to get ready for work, let alone the children ready for school as they have to be sent to school without eating or drinking anything.
The resident goes as far as requesting to leave work every time the electricity comes back on just to start a load of laundry.