HRA - ELECTRICITY TASK TEAM: PROGRESS REPORT 01 - 1st AUGUST 2017
PLEASE READ RIGHT TO THE END – THIS AFFECTS US ALL!
There has been a month of activity by the Task Team established after the public meeting in June. The following is a brief summary of the progress made to date:
Recent outage: Wednesday and Thursday's outage was due to yet another fault in one of the buried cable sections of the 33,000 Volt (33kV) supply from Msunduzi's Retief Substation (S/S) to the Crossways S/S, supplying Hilton and part of Sweetwaters.
Capacity & demands: The strength of the 33kV network is only as good as its weakest link, which in this case is the old PILC cables across Villiers Drive near Wykeham-Collegiate school. These cables have a maximum rating of 228A (no de-rating factors applied) which equates to 13 MVA at 33kV. The current demand at the Crossways S/S is between the at 17-18 MVA mark, peaking at around 20-21 MVA which is of huge concern, particularly in light of the supply side system constraint and limitations. An estimated 5MVA of the load on Crossways S/S is for consumers in Sweetwaters.
The existing 33kV supply system is therefore being stressed beyond its design limits and is critically overloaded without the necessary operating redundancy available. This stress on the network becomes more pronounced and extremely serious when one of the 33kV supply feeders is disconnected from the system for whatever reason.
Problem Statement: Lack of a continuous and reliable supply of electricity to Hilton by Msunduzi due essentially to the current status of their existing 33 kV supply system and the lack of any system upgrade being implemented to keep pace with the growth and developments taking place in and around Hilton. These will impose additional load on an already over-burdened network still further.
A. Supply side: Engage with Msunduzi, uMngeni, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), COGTA, Eskom and others to resolve as a matter of urgent priority, a permanent solution in the short, medium and longer terms;
B. Demand side: Reduce the electricity demand at Crossways S/S, especially during peak demand periods;
Supply side: At the emergency public meeting called by the Hilton Ratepayers Association (HRA) at Grace College on 28th June, an electricity supply Task Team (TT) was formed consisting of Hilton volunteers.
The TT has had several meetings to strategize and formulate an action plan. To implement this action plan the TT has formed the following portfolios: Political/Municipal; Legal; Business; Technical/Infrastructural; Research/General; Alternative Energy; and Communications, each with a Leader. The members of these portfolios consist of a Hilton-based Advocate, lawyers, engineers, researchers, entrepreneurs, alternative energy experts, councillors etc.
Submissions to the role-players mentioned in item A above are being drafted. The initial intention is to try to engage with them constructively. Failing that the necessary Government Acts will be invoked, together with legal input for a more forceful approach. The approach will begin at local level but may have to escalate to Provincial and National level.
This process takes time and positive results in the short-term are unlikely.
Demand side: We, the consumers of Hilton can and must help resolve this crisis by taking the problem to heart and reducing our electricity demand now, especially during the peak demand periods, i.e. between 05:00-08:00 am & pm daily. This can be achieved through various means as follows:
1. Conserving electricity at all times, especially during peak periods and especially during winter;
2. Improving household insulation to maintain coolness in summer and warmth in winter to minimise the use of air conditioners in summer and heaters in winter;
3. Switching off hot water geysers during peak periods either by doing so manually, or (preferably) using electronic timers, then switching them on again any time after 08:00/20:00 to stagger the increased demand;
4. Installing an Energy Control Unit (ECU) to shed load by switching off non-essential appliances (e.g. geysers) when other appliances (e.g. stove or heater) are being used;
5. Using solar energy for electricity generation and water heating;
6. Using gas water heaters and gas for cooking and heating;
7. Using inverters and battery banks;
8. Using energy saving lights, water saving shower heads and any other energy saving devices;
9. Using a generator and/or a 12 Volt lighting system run off a 12 Volt deep-cycle battery;
10. Getting off the national electricity supply grid altogether.
Item Nos 3 & 4 above are the quickest, easiest, most cost-effective and meaningful ways to reduce our demand over peak periods and make a significant difference right now. (More information on these two options to follow).
Unless the majority, if not all, Hilton residents subscribe to this initiative immediately, interrupted supplies will continue and could put the whole 33kV supply system into serious jeopardy, if not into total collapse.
The Alternative Energy portfolio team has drafted its terms of reference and identified its primary objective to: "Research practical, cost effective alternative energy backup and generation options and make these accessible to all Hilton residents." More from this portfolio to follow.
Please take the above seriously and act on it today. Whether we like it or not, we are part of the current problem and have control over this part of the solution.
We, the HRA through the TT, are determined to do everything we can to resolve this electricity supply crisis and will need your full co-operation, understanding, support and patience to do so.
We will also endeavour to keep you informed of our progress as often as we can. Please bear in mind we are all unpaid volunteers with jobs to service and families to care for.
The underlying message to all residents is that even if funds were made available immediately to strengthen the existing system and related infrastructure and/or provide an alternate supply into the area, the actual implementation of any capital work is not going to happen overnight.
Therefore, the only meaningful way forward to try and address some of the problem right now is, LOAD REDUCTION.