Eskom launches campaign to explain 'network overloading'

Eskom is on a mission to school its customers on a number of issues impacting the national grid – and essentially its ability to keep the lights on — by launching a communications campaign.

In a statement on Wednesday, 29 July 2020, Eskom said the key focus would be on illegal activities, in particular meter tampering, infrastructure theft and illegal vending.

While the drive will be rolled out across the country, the utility will be paying specific attention to areas in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, where there has been a surge in illegal electricity connections.

The power utility has often been prompted to implement load reduction in recent months, which is when power is switched off in neighbourhoods where illegal connections cause overload and damage infrastructure.

"The drive is to educate communities on the dangers of illegal connections, network overloading and the impact on the communities. Since May, Eskom has implemented load reduction and unlike "loadshedding", this is not due to shortage of electricity generation capacity", Eskom has said.

The drive will also focus on non-payment of services by customers.

On loadshedding, Eskom's Group Executive for Distribution Division Monde Bala said:

"Loadshedding is when the national grid is constrained and there isn't sufficient capacity to generate electricity. Eskom then announces which stage loadshedding it will be implementing across the country in order to ration electricity and protect the integrity of the national grid"

Eskom: 'Illegal connections are a danger to communities'

Bala has stressed the impact of illegal connections and said there main concern around it was the danger it posed to communities, adding that in addition to damaging property and causing serious injuries some of the consequences were deadly.

"The objective of load reduction is to protect Eskom's infrastructure by reducing electricity usage during peak times, which is when the most damage occurs, and managing the impact on the transformers and mini substations in that area", Bala added.

'Billions being forked out due to crime'

The state-owned entity, which is experiencing a major cash crunch, often foots the bill in the event of either the damage of theft of its infrastructure with Bala saying replacing a transformer costs between R80 000 and R100 000.

Eskom spends billions every year on fixing infrastructure, something which affects customers who diligently pay for their electricity consumption.