Corporates prepare for a possible national blackout

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As South Africa has had to endure rolling blackouts at generally high stages of load shedding this year, there are concerns that a total national blackout could happen.

The JSE and other listed corporates have indicated that they’re working on contingency plans for the worst case scenario.

Recently-appointed Electricity Minister, Kgosientso Ramakgopa, has been tasked to work with all energy stakeholders, especially Eskom to rapidly bring down the higher stages of load shedding.

Concerns over possible national blackout:

One energy observer, whose country experienced national blackouts, says South Africa doesn’t have to go that route.

CEO at Clean Tech Hub Nigeria Ifeoma Malo says, “I think it is important for South Africans to learn lessons from what has happened in Nigeria, so that the same mistakes are not repeated. We’ve gone through a process where we’ve gone to ground zero several times and we now have an active import state for generators. It doesn’t have to be that way in South Africa.”

Malo says there is a need for robust investment power drive to bring more investors.

“We need to get the South African government to think about unbundling its power assets and do a much more robust investment power drive to bring more investors here, who can work across the value chai; not just generation, but also distribution and transmission and also to work in the renewable energy sector,” he adds.

Meanwhile, energy expert, Tebogo Mosito from Disoko Engineering and Mining says South Africans are already taking too much strain from the power crisis.

“Currently, it’s increased our operational costs, because now, we have to hire generators, spend a lot of money on diesel and so forth. So, we’re looking for better alternatives to this energy crisis and one of the biggest challenges is the scarce skills in our community where we can’t find young people who can install solar panels and so forth,” says Disoko.

While there’s a general feeling that the probability of a national black is low, the insurance sector is not taking any chances.

Some insurance companies are reported to have introduced grid failure exclusions as far back as last year. Even the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria), which covered massive losses resulting from the July unrest, has indicated that it, too, will not cover consequential losses as a result of severe load shedding and or a complete blackout.

One-on-one with new Minister of Electricity: