No Need for Panic over Outages

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Despite recent chaotic power outages in South Africa, there is no reason for panic about a possible similar scenario in Namibia, says the country’s electricity supplier, NamPower. In a press release on Friday, shortly after some areas in the Western Cape Province of neighbouring South Africa experienced power outages, NamPower reassured the Namibian public that the situation was under control. “We are closely monitoring the situation in the RSA and will provide regular updates on any new development,” read the company’s statement. On Thursday morning, NamPower received information from Eskom about power outages in some areas including the Western Cape. It is reported that “according to Eskom a loss of and insufficient supply is being experienced from a number of generating units, including an automatic and controlled shutdown of the 900 MW Unit 1 at Koeberg Power Station.” Since Eskom and NamPower systems are interconnected, there is a possibility that ongoing supply shortages in South Africa, particularly in the Western Cape, could affect supply to Namibia. However, in an effort to mitigate such a situation, NamPower has been running all three of its power stations. These are the Van Eck Power Station, Ruacana and the Baratus Power Station at Walvis Bay. When reached for comment, the Manager of Marketing and Corporate Communications, John Kaimu, informed New Era that the situation was under control and that there was no need for panic. “The situation is quite manageable. At the moment, we are out of danger. The river flow at Ruacana is quite okay and all power stations are running – so we are not anticipating any serious problems,” explained Kaimu, adding that since all three power stations are not running on full capacity yet, the company still has the leeway to increase in case of a power shortage in the country. He added that their bigger clients like RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing and other factories that make use of immense power, are requested to cut down on their usage of electricity during this period through a process called “load shedding.” In light of the likely impact of the power outage in South Africa, NamPower has also requested the Municipality of Windhoek to monitor the Repo control of geysers – meaning that geysers are switched off during certain hours of the day without the consumer even feeling the difference. Other municipalities like Walvis Bay are also doing the same. In a nutshell, consumers have been asked to be ready to manage loads when required, in case of a possible power shortage. “We further appeal to consumers to assist by switching off non-essential electrical equipment such as air-conditioning, geysers and swimming pool pumps during peak times from 07h00 to 11h00 and from 19h00 to 21h00,” the statement reads. Due to the high demand of power within South Africa itself as a result of growing economic activities, it turns out that there are what Kaimu called “transmission constraints,” causing that country to also send reduced supplies to other neighbouring countries like Namibia. To ensure future supply, Namibia is placing its hopes on the major Kudu Gas Project as well as the Caprivi link to Zambia which is at an advanced stage. Meanwhile, Eskom is doing all it can to normalize the current situation in South Africa as soon as possible. However, it could not be determined at this stage how long the power outage situation will prevail in South Africa. In South Africa, in the meantime, First National Bank in that country has bought generators in case of a power cut which could disrupt their business.