Pretoria – A staggering R12.5 million – that’s the amount spent by the City of Tshwane last year to repair its electricity infrastructure after it was damaged by the impact of Eskom’s load shedding.
Repairs for electric faults were done on the primary sub-stations such as Ifafi, Florapark, Parktown, K3, K1, Phumlani and the 132kV line current transformer at Pretoria North, which all had circuit breaker failures.
In the 2019/20 financial year, the City parted with an estimated R232m to fix similar damages.
The 200KVA transformer and associated equipment at Kwagga infeed sub-station was affected by fire and it cost the City R200m to repair.
At least R30m was spent on the Pyramid sub-station after it was struck by lightning and could not be aided by a weakened infrastructure.
Last year in June, Njala sub-station had broken circuit breakers, insulators and bridge pieces and was repaired at an estimated cost of R2m.
At the time the City said an Eskom supply line caused the Njala sub-station to trip, causing power outages in some (parts) of Pretoria East, Centurion and The Moot.
Chief of staff Jordan Griffiths said the electric faults had previously been escalated to Eskom, but the power utility refused to take accountability for damages caused by load shedding.
Repeated efforts by the Pretoria News to get comment from Eskom since last week failed.
Griffiths said: “Eskom generally does not take accountability for it, which is problematic. They often want documentary evidence or proof and so it is an endless fight and engagement. Often Eskom does not communicate properly the load shedding schedules, which often puts us in the firing line because most people think of the City and Eskom interchangeably.”
He said the municipal power infrastructure was negatively affected by load shedding because it was not designed to be switched off and on for multiple times during the course of the day.
“If you switch off the whole stuff it becomes a nightmare, particularly in the evenings because there are not many teams deployed by the City for repair like when it happens during the day.”
Griffiths said during load shedding the water in geysers usually cooled down.
“When the power is restored all of the geysers in that zone try to heat up. That causes an abnormal peak for a short period and this often causes the circuit to trip.”
He advised residents to switch off their geysers during load shedding and delay to switch them back on after power had been restored.
They must also switch off pool pumps, air conditioners and heaters as well.
Executive Mayor Randall Williams, however, promised the residents that municipal electricity personnel would continuously be deployed to address the prolonged power outages as and when they occurred.
According to him, load shedding caused an abnormal peak for a short period which could disrupt the municipal circuits.
“The result is that sub-stations can trip, old cable joints that can’t handle the load will explode, and switches can fail along with various other issues that can plague our City infrastructure,” Williams said.
He apologised to Tshwane residents for the disruptions, assuring them that the City would make sure that it repaired what had arisen to switch power back on.