04 February 2008

Lights out

Well the lights have just come back on after a two hour power cut. I know that the upper echelons in Eskom like to talk of “power outages” or “load shedding”, but the term “power cuts” suits me just fine, because that tells it as it is. Somehow, “power outages” and “load shedding” gives credence to what is nothing less, in my view, than the incompetence and inability of Eskoms management to plan for the country’s power requirements.

In cutting power to the mines last week Eskom was successful in significantly contributing to the slide of the Rand. Many investors have also lost confidence in the country as a result of the poor power supply. Yet the authorities still try to duck and dive the real issues.

Both the Minister of Minerals and Energy Affairs, Bujelwa Sonjica and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alec Erwin have said that we should not seek to attribute blame, or look for heads to roll. Why not? If the CEO of any large corporation had to run their business in the same way that Eskom has mismanaged our electrical power supply, they would have been fired a long time ago. The Eskom executives still continue draw fat salaries and bonuses.

If it was not so serious it would be a real joke. E-TV recently had an amusing insert, where they replayed clips of several denials by Minister Erwin that there was an energy crisis, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In the last clip he acknowledged that there was a problem.

When presenting her ten point plan to save electricity to Parliament last week, Minister Sonjica suggested, amidst much heckling, “Go to sleep earlier so you can grow and be cleverer”. I hope she follows her own advice, because a lot more brain power is needed to solve this crisis.

In the face of all this it seems that the country has to gear itself up for may more power cuts. If it is like this in summer, what will it be like in winter, when there is a greater demand for electricity.

Tailpiece: What is the difference between Eskom and the Titanic? The Titanic went down with its lights on.


Jenty said...

It's so damn frustrating! We had no power again this afternoon in Sandton. The traffic is a nightmare!
And to top it off, there's now a water crisis apparently!

Anna said...

Max-e, we had once lights out for two days, major black out. The nights were just beautiful, full of stars that we don't see because of all the lights on the ground. Mind you it was quiet too. Thanks for sharing, btw, thanks for the info on the spiders, I will digg deeper. Anna :)

Swubird said...

I take it you have issues with Eskom. I know it's no comfort, but your complaints about energy seem to echo across the globe. Everywhere you look energy is getting to be a crisis. Yes, the US also has problems. In 2001 I thought the entire economy of California was going to collapse. The problem is that real shortages get confused with mismanagement, fraud, deceit and back room deals. So what's new? And sadly, it's only going to get worse. As China comes on line - energy prices will hit the roof! This is only my opinion, of course, but I feel your pain.

Nice post.

Susanne49 said...

After Hurrican "WILMA" in Oct. 2005 we had no electricity and no water for over 2 weeks. That was almost not bearable: it was hot, smelly and really annoying. We get the food delivered from FEMA: Water bottles and cold spaghetti in the cans..and this every day! In moments like this you start really praying to get the lights back.

photowannabe said...

It seems every country is going through the same kind of problems. Management is greedy and that leads to corruption.
I'm glad your power is back on. Life can be so difficult without it.
Hang in there and keep us appraised of your difficulities.

Max-e said...

Jenty I hear it is a lot worse up in Gauteng than it is down here. A johannesburg businessman told me the other day that they no longer use the lifts in their building, because too many people have been stuck in it as a result of power failures

Max-e said...

Hi Anna I seem to recall that blackout several years ago. They can be trying, but you seemed to have found something redeeming in it.I like your positive attitude to life.

Max-e said...

Hi swubird thanks for your comments. The situation is really bad. Up until the 1980,s many municipalities generated their own electricity and Eskom came in wth great promises. The result is that many of the municipal power stations were scrapped when they changed over to Eskom power. That was despite appeals from organised industry, of which I was part, for our municipality retain the power station as a back up.
Sadly our predictions have come true 20 years later.
To make matters worse, Eskom, in the middle of the crisis has entered into a 5 year no-interuption agreement with Botswana. ZimbabweI believe gets there power for nothing.....and so it goes.
Our problem really goes down to poor planning and lack of foresight.
The result is that the country at large is paying the price

Max-e said...

Hi Susanne, glad to see you back in circulation. I can only imagine that circumstances must have been bad after the hurricane.
We were without power for 5 days after severe floding many years ago. We coped as we were geared for for it. I grew up without electricity so can cope without it. Since then I have always made a point of ensuring that we have full gas cylinders.
Last year we put in a gas stove in anticipation of increased power cuts and today I bought battery operated lights. Next step may be a generator............

Max-e said...

Hi photowannabe, the power is back on, but the shortage will get worse. Industry has been told to cut its consumtion by 10% or face penalties - how do you expand in the face of this.
Eskom now wants to install switches in all homes, where they can turn our geysers on and of as they please.
It will take several years to commission new power stations, so this will be with us for a long time.

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