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New electricity deal to help end power outages in Joburg

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The City of Johannesburg has entered into a two-year power purchase agreement with the privately-owned Kelvin power station, which it says will significantly help reduce electricity outages across the metropole.

 Kelvin Power Station is the only large privately owned coal-fired power plant in the country. Located near OR Tambo International Airport.Kelvin power station

Until 2001 the power station was the property of the City of Johannesburg, but has since been privatised, and resold a number of times. In 2015 the utility was sold to a consortium led by Aldwych International, by Investec, and Nedbank Capital.

In a media briefing on Friday (8 October), newly-elected Johannesburg mayor Mpho Moerane said that the deal forms part of the city’s plan to take ownership of several key areas from power utility Eskom, including:

  • Soweto;
  • Orange Farm;
  • Diesploot;
  • Ivory Park;
  • Finetown;
  • Sandton.

“The primary question has been, where will the additional capacity come from to meet the urgent demand in these areas?

“The challenges of electricity supply from Eskom in these areas, especially the prolonged outages experienced by residents in recent months, make it urgent to enter into a new agreement with Kelvin. We want to move from the position where power outages are normalised in some areas, especially where the majority are living below the breadline,” he said.

Gauteng premier David Makhura said the partnership would add 100MW of power – from 80MW to 180MW-  to the city’s electricity supply.

The deal is also expected to reduce electricity costs, with Johannesburg’s City Power expected to save over R1.4 billion in bulk purchase cost, he said.

“The intermittent power interruptions undermine the City of JHB as the economic hub of the province and the country,” he said.

In an interview on Monday (4 October), Moerane said that initial discussions between the city and Eskom had focused on Soweto, with residents complaining about a lack of service delivery and power outages.

Despite several write-offs and years of collection battles, the township’s residents currently owe Eskom around R7.5 billion in unpaid electricity debt.

Rather than continuing to serve the area, Eskom has instead approved the transfer of Soweto and other suburbs directly to the City of Johannesburg through its power subsidiary, City Power, Moerane said.

While a formal memorandum of understanding is still being formulated between the city and Eskom, the mayor said that the city already plans to introduce its own power scheme to improve collections.

Load shedding and faults 

Eskom announced that stage 2 load shedding would be implemented over the weekend to replenish emergency generation reserves.

The power utility said that load shedding will be implemented starting Thursday evening (7 October) from 21h00 to 05h00 in the morning and will again resume on Friday night at 21h00 to 05h00 on Saturday morning.

Should the generation reserves not recover sufficiently, it may be necessary to introduce load shedding during the day and over the weekend, Eskom warned.

The power utility also warned of several faults across Gauteng caused by the inclement weather.

“The current weather conditions have resulted in a high volume of network faults across Gauteng. We are attending to these faults and appeal to our customers to be patient as we work on supply restoration,” it said in a statement on Friday.

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