As South Africans, we have learnt to be resilient and shown the ability to adapt to circumstances. The recent experiences of enduring Stages 5 and 6 of load shedding require us all to make adaptations to how we manage our lives. I was recently privileged to attend an Energy Summit where the Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter spoke about the power station fleet that had been operated at maximum capacity for too long. This means that maintenance needs to be undertaken to avoid complete breakdowns. New generating capacity will have to be built over the next 15 years.
On an ongoing basis the municipality is examining a range of projects to mitigate the risks in supplying electricity to our customer base:
- We have installed 25 generators at our critical installations ranging from water and waste-water treatment works, and critical pump stations to buildings. These generators need to be constantly re-fuelled with diesel as we attempt to keep operations going under conditions where Eskom is unable to provide electricity for up to eight hours per day.
- We are concerned about key businesses and installations that are large employers, energy-intensive users or who need to operate 24/7. We are searching for solutions that can assist them.
- We are progressing with plans to implement renewable energy plants that will reduce bulk purchases from Eskom to avoid implementation of some load shedding stages.
Our customers can assist in this adaptation process by “shifting their loads” to reduce the maximum electricity capacity that they use through an awareness of not operating too many high-capacity appliances at the same time. The objective is to reduce peaks experienced in the early morning and evening. Success in this adaptation will strengthen our negotiations with Eskom to start avoiding painful load shedding Stages.
We have recently undertaken road-building activity on some of our Provincial roads and Go George routes. We receive grants equivalent to 80% of the project cost on provincial roads that requires spending within defined timelines. Fortunately, the Langenhoven Road and Market Street projects are approaching completion. Work will shortly also be undertaken on York Street. We appreciate how our citizens have adapted their travel routines to ensure the completion of these projects.
Communication is currently underway to appeal to our citizens living close to the forest and mountains to provide advice on co-existence with baboons who periodically enter living areas in search of food. The 2018 George Fire severely damaged their habitat and food sources. Scientific advice is that humans make small adaptations to their routines to improve co-existence.
We express our gratitude to our citizens for their patience in dealing with the adaptations they have been making as we work together building a well-run city.
Ald Leon van Wyk
Executive Mayor of George