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The 88kV Line - Words akin to foul language


8 June 2021

"The municipality has since moved some of the kiosks from 88kV substation to the 11kV substation in order to try and ameliorate the situation at the 88kV."

As residents sit and contemplate their fate in the darkness of yet another and endlessly ongoing electrical outage, tempers are starting to flare, and many sit in desperation. Scores of residents have been left, and still are, without electricity, as Msukaligwa Local Municipality (MLM) flogs the 88kV line horse to tatters. According to the responses provided by the call centre and electrical support groups, alleged overloading of the electrical infrastructure is causing havoc on all fronts, leaving hundreds of residents in the cold and dark for days on end.

Many have complained about damages suffered from electrical fluctuations, with droves of geysers, televisions and residential circuit breakers biting the dust as the electrical supply spikes repeatedly. The constant barrage of electrical flow being switched on and off have caused thousands or Rands worth of damage to residents, and even more to MLM, as substations, junction boxes and circuit breakers melt, catch fire, explode, or are irreparably damaged. As the municipality states that illegal connections are to blame, coupled with residents “drawing too much electricity” for the 88kV and 11kV lines to handle, many residents aren’t biting on the carrot presented by MLM.

Rolling bouts of load reduction is the order of the day, with the electrical supply often failing to return after the scheduled times. Even more frustrating to residents is the fact that the apparent schedule issued by MLM is rarely followed, and load reduction is implemented without notice, and without consequence. The community must simply grin and bear the mounting issues.

Speaking to Mr. Zwane, municipal spokesman, attempts at obtaining clarity regarding the rolling outages produced the following reply: “The municipality reiterates that there are two substations. The first one is called the 88kV substation, where Eskom is supplying the municipality with Notified Maximum Demand (NMD) of 14 MVA. The second substation is called 11kV sub station, where Eskom is supplying the municipality NMD of 27MVA. The municipality has since moved some of the kiosks from 88kV substation to the 11kV substation in order to try and ameliorate the situation at the 88kV. The NMDs for the four substations are informed by the electrical master plan, which is in line with the growth of the municipality. During the winter period there’s exponential increase on power demand causes load to exceed the licensed NDM per substation. Unfortunately, numerous informal settlements mushroom all over the municipal area, and started connecting illegally into municipal electrical grid. This then causes a spike on the power load demand. MLM tried in numerous accounts to cut off the illegal connections from our grid, with no luck. MLM went as far as hiring external service provider to eradicate this problem. MLM exceeded the licensed NMD, and incurring payable penalties. This precipitated the inclination in Eskom bills. Over the past five years, together with ESKOM, the ANC led government in Msukaligwa Local Municipality has facilitated the electrification of 1195 new households between 2016 and 2021. The percentage of households that are electrified increased from 44683 (87%) in 2016 to 45878 (90%) in June 2020. The electricity master plan for the entire Msukaligwa LM was developed in 2019. The master plan guided the development of technical reports for electricity infrastructure development and upgrades which are still under consideration by the Department of Energy. Public lighting has been provided to various communities, as thirty new high mast lights were installed throughout the municipality. The municipality has built a switch station /substation 88/11kV in Ermelo Extension 33, and further constructed the MV line and switching station at Extension 7 and refurbishment of switching station at Extension 6. Integrated national electrification programme (INEP) of R10 million, and another R10 million to replace the burnt transformer at 88kV late last year.”

The Tribune ePaper has lodged a detailed enquiry with MLM regarding the plan to resolve the electrical crisis, with the response dated to be printed in next week’s publication.

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