Govan Mbeki Municipality made a request to Eskom on 8 April to develop a technical turnaround strategy on electricity supply for Bethal, eMzinoni and eMbalenhle.
The municipality asked Eskom to increase the NMD of Bethal with 54 per cent, eMzinoni with 12.5 per cent and eMbalenhle with 8.8 per cent.
In a response from Eskom on 1 May, dated 29 April, they did not approve the municipality’s request.
Eskom said the guiding principles approved by Eskom Exco on relief of NMD during the lockdown period, only apply to customers in good standing and paid up accounts prior to the lockdown period.
Eskom’s letter further read that the Govan Mbeki Municipality has been consistently failing to pay its monthly accounts prior to the lockdown period and that the municipality has been in breach of the Electricity Supply Agreement (ESA) and the relief requested can not be directly linked to the lockdown period.
The press release from Gert Sibande District Municipality further reads that the approach to request Eskom to increase the NMD in Bethal and eMzinoni, needs to be motivated by a technical plan of turning around the electricity supply system.
From a business point of view, it would be difficult to make Eskom understand why they should allow GMM to increase the NMD where as they can not account for the existing.
Note be taken that on average the requested NMD would be an additional load of 25 per cent to the existing one. This is a lot.
The average monthly account is likely to increase by a reasonable percentage depending on the tariff structures, etc.
The total losses on electricity supply is at an average of 55 per cent as per the report by the chief financial officer.
The technical losses are assumed to be five per cent of the 55 per cent considering the norm on a fairly maintained electrical infrastructure.
This is likely to be more because of poor planned maintenance being done on major equipment such as power transformers.
The non-technical losses are therefore assumed to be 50 per cent.
This could mean that 12.5 per cent of the additional load requested would not be accounted for from day one when it is made available.
The Gert Sibande District Municipality made two suggestions to Govan Mbeki Municipality.
The first one is aimed to advise the Govan Mbeki Municipality on how to structure the letter of appeal to Eskom on the request to increase the NMD.
The second suggestion is aimed to advise the Govan Mbeki Municipality to embark on a Technical Turnaround Strategy on Electricity Supply (TTSES) through a pilot project.
The district municipality suggested that Govan Mbeki Municipality write a letter to Eskom to consider the request of increasing the NMD at eMzinoni and Bethal separately from the main account of R1.7 billion that the municipality owes Eskom.
The district municipality also suggested that Govan Mbeki Municipality should propose a payment plan of 100 per cent on the current account per month on both points of supply at eMzinoni and Bethal and to indicate to Eskom that the municipality is intending to pilot a Technical Turnaround
Strategy on Electricity Supply (TTSES) that would deliver reliable and viable electricity supply system.
The strategy would require the municipality to ring fence electricity services of each point of supply hence the request to consider the application separately is made.
To indicate to Eskom that GMM would request Eskom to be a partner in a form of being an adviser in implementing the turnaround strategy.
With the second suggestion Gert Sibande District Municipality advised GMM to engage on activities to be done by GMM whether Eskom is accepting the appeal or not.
These activities would be part of the TTSES plan to be developed.
It will ensure that the customer database and billing system are 95 per cent to 100 per cent accurate.
It will ensure that the municipal bylaws are updated, gazetted and approved.
It will ensure that calibrated and sealed meters are installed to all customers and that electrical service providers especially those working with metering, are vetted and SLA’s are concluded between them and GMM.
It will ensure that meters issued for replacement are recorded and enough meters are kept at stores at all times and that, as time goes on, rates and taxes and sales of prepaid electricity units are linked.
To do meter audit, prioritising bulk customers (Industrial, business/Commercial and government institutions) followed by residential customers.
To ring fence the revenue generated from the two points of supply in order to honour the commitment to be made with Eskom.
To build a good relationship with top 100, 200 or more big customers at Bethal and eMzinoni and develop a special services plan for them.
Additional and dedicated resources could be required.
To take advantage of the law enforcement in our space due to COVID-19 and mobilise teams to remove illegal connections from the electrical network.
Other activities of MV/LV strengthening, protection settings and grading, protection upgrade and load balancing, cables upgrade, etc. would also be reflected on the TTSES.
Stakeholders especially in business, engineering and finance, would be required to contribute and make inputs and proposals in order to strengthen the plan.
The detailed plan of how to implement the Technical Turnaround Strategy on Electricity Supply (TTSES) would be developed once the proposals have been tabled and accepted by both the LCC and DCC.