Eskom chairman and acting CEO Jabu Mabuza said they are not failing to resolve the country’s energy crisis, despite having to implement stage 6 load-shedding.

Many South African landlords are introducing additional charges to keep the lights on during load-shedding because of the unprecedented number of outages this year.

To date, many office parks provided backup generator power to their tenants as a free perk, but this is changing because of the increase in load-shedding.

One landlord highlighted that they had no load-shedding in 2016 and 2017, and only 19 hours of outages in 2018.

In December 2019 alone, they suffered 25 hours of outages, and from 1 January 2020 to 9 February 2020 they already had 35 hours of load shedding.

This increase in load-shedding means that generators have to be serviced and repaired more regularly, which increases the cost of offering emergency backup power.

To compensate for the increased costs, office parks are now starting to charge a monthly generator standby fee and usage-based charged for providing power.

Paying to keep the lights on

The monthly generator standby fee differs significantly from one office park to the next as it is based on factors like the number of tenants and the power needed.

Accounts seen by MyBroadband suggest a typical generator standby fee of between R100 and R200 per month.

This standby fee typically includes one or two operating hours per month, after which tenants will be charged based on energy consumption and the duration of running the generator.

The table below provides an overview of the generator charges from a prominent business park.

Loadshedding Charges
Business sizePower consumptionPrice
Small businessUnder 1,000kWh per monthR10 per hour
Medium business1,000 to 5,000 kWh per monthR40 per hour
Medium to large business10,000 to 40,000kWhR400 per hour
Large businessOver 50,000kWh per monthR1200 per hour

Big additional cost to a business

In a month with 25 hours of load shedding, like December 2019, the additional cost to a medium-to-large business will be around R10,000 per month.

A medium-sized business can expect to pay an additional R1,000 a month, with a large business being charged R30,000 extra per month.

With a struggling economy and a depressed business market, these additional charges will be hard to stomach for many businesses

Speaking to ENCA, Mabuza said the situation Eskom currently finds itself in is due to the poor reliability of power plants and a lack of maintenance.

He said Eskom is currently ensuring that it is implementing controlled load-shedding, and that stage 6 load-shedding is not a calamity because it is controlled.

He added that this controlled load-shedding is necessary to protect the electricity grid against total collapse.

Pravin Gordhan blames the previous administration

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan blamed “what happened in the past ten years” for the return of load-shedding in South Africa.

Load-shedding returned after Gordhan took over the public enterprises portfolio, and many people are pointing fingers at his leadership for the return of blackouts.

Gordhan, however, dismissed this accusation, saying Eskom is trying to recover from the problems which were created over the past decade.

“There was no long-term maintenance done and we repeated that many times,” Gordhan said.

He said many of the current critics are the ones who were responsible for the problems which Eskom is currently facing.

Getting back to normality

Gordhan said their immediate aim is to get back to normality without any load-shedding.

After this is achieved, he said they will ask a lot of questions related to getting generation capacity online again and ensuring Eskom improves its level of maintenance.

He said they will focus on getting better-quality repair work done on some of the boiler tube leaks and other technical problems.

Article originally from Mybroadband