This morning Eskom repeated its warnings that loadshedding, or constraints on the grid, are likely to be with us for the next three years at least. One body of business people reckon that not only can we cope, but we can thrive despite power shortages. The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) has put out a multipoint plan which it believes could alleviate the worst pain of loadshedding, should Eskom choose to adhere to it.
But instead of sporadic loadshedding with little to no warning, SACCI has drafted a document in which it details the plan government can follow to overcome the need for loadshedding.
The plan was drawn up by SACCI members and initially outlined earlier this month. Last Friday, however, the organisation released a statement saying it had been submitted to Eskom as part of a call for proposals by the utility.
The plan is divided into three categories: Immediate (one to three weeks), Medium Term (four weeks to three months), and Long Term. Naturally in the short term, SACCI is keenest on keeping the lights on for its members in the business community.
Each category highlights the steps that will be need, and among its most radical suggestions is the idea that the country should be split into geographic “timezones” to stagger working hours and thus pressure on the grid.
“Divide the country into fourtime zones as a temporary solution with KZN and Mpumalanga business starting westwards until the far Western Cape and Northern Cape start and end an hour later than usual,” it said.
Unsurprisingly, it’s ultimate solution is that Eskom should be privatised, and that foreigners should be allowed to build power plants.
“Invite foreign investors to build power stations – ranging from nuclear to solar to wind generation. Investigate municipal funding to come up with a model that reduces the reliance on cross-subsidisation of services from income from electricity,” it suggests.
Whether government follows SACCI suggestions, is a completely different matter…
Below is the full text of the suggestions:
- 1. Immediate (One to three weeks):
a. Because of the impact that load shedding has on economic growth, keep it to residential areas (during the day) and ensure that commerce and industry can continue to operate.
b. Allow business to operate in shifts without the need to compensate labour for work outside normal hours – some businesses to operate from 08h00 to 16h00, others 16h00 to 24h00 and others 24h00 to 08h00. This was done in China by government decree. We could consider a proclamation.
c. Introduce a three shift system at Medupi and Kusile speed up their entry into the grid
d. Divide the country into four time zones as a temporary solution with KZN and Mpumalanga business starting westwards until the far Western Cape and Northern Cape start and end an hour later than usual. This can be done voluntarily or by proclamation
e. Promulgate the ISMO Bill
f. Reassess the categorisation of the power station into A, B and C. Place priority on category A maintenance and get those power stations up to peak capacity even if it means taking out a unit to achieve this. Category B should be the next priority, and category C attended to as the lowest priority
g. Commence with implementation of the priority maintenance
h. Stick to advertised load shedding schedules
i. Convene an Electricity Summit where solutions can be discussed.
- 2. Medium Term (Four weeks to three months)
a. Get all industries that generate their own power to sell to the grid immediately
b. Deal with electricity theft
c. Collect outstanding debt owed to municipalities by consumers
d. Add to capacity by generating off-shore, using barges off the coast
e. Implement power generation from waste operations by private sector operators and at municipal level
f. Proceed with the implementation of the priority maintenance
- 3. Long Term
a. Privatise Eskom
b. Invite foreign investors to build power stations – ranging from nuclear to solar to wind generation
c. Investigate municipal funding to come up with a model that reduces the reliance on cross-subsidisation of services from income from electricity
[Image – CC BY-SA 3.0]