South African utility considers energy efficiency program

Jacob Maroga,
Chief Executive,
Johannesburg, South Africa — (METERING.COM) — May 29, 2007 – South African electric utility Eskom is planning to introduce energy efficiency measures, including time of use tariffs and demand management programs, in an effort to meet growing demand for power in the country. Over the next five or six years Eskom will spend R10 billion ($1.4 billion) on implementing energy efficiency programs, in an effort to reduce demand by 500 MW a year.

Parts of the country have experienced rolling blackouts in recent times, caused by a combination of ageing infrastructure and increased demand for power. The utility is bringing some mothballed power plants back on line, and investing in new plants, but says that in the short and medium term the only alternative will be to reduce demand.

The energy efficiency measures envisaged include the introduction of higher electricity tariffs for residential customers during peak periods, as a way of encouraging customers to change their energy usage patterns; the launch of a sustained and continuous awareness campaign in the media; distribution of energy saving light bulbs and geyser blankets; and the offer of subsidies for solar water heaters. Industrial consumers are already paying time-of-use rates for the power they use.

In addition the utility has applied to the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for an electricity price increase of inflation plus 13 per cent, which it hopes to introduce in April 2008. NERSA still has to approve both this application and the introduction of the time-of-use tariffs.