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The new 66/11 kV 40 MVA electrical substation which is currently under construction in Thembalethu, will not only improve reliability and provide adequate capacity of electrical supply to the area but is also one of the largest of its kind in the Southern Cape and a major bulk infrastructure milestone for the city. The new substation will alleviate load on the substations that are currently supplying Thembalethu and serves as an important catalyst for investment funding from both the state and business.

“George Municipality is a key growth area for many investors, but it requires certain very expensive bulk infrastructure to support the growth. The allocation of supportive funding from the national Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to build this substation signals trust in the local authority to facilitate growth and service delivery. In turn, the municipality can provide the kind of infrastructure required for outside manufacturers and business to invest and for housing supportive facilities to be developed across the municipal area,” said Executive Mayor Leon Van Wyk.

Adequate capacity will be provided
Municipality Director for Electrotechnical Services, Bongani Mandla said when completed, the substation will provide power to Thembalethu and other suburbs east of the N2 that are currently supplied from substations across the highway. The overall impact on the city’s grid will be adequate capacity for a growing city and more reliable supply to especially the eastern areas,” said Mr Mandla.

Construction Update
Construction on the Thembalethu 66kV substation will run across three financial years. The first phase, costing about R30-million, is funded two thirds by the municipality and the rest by the Integrated National Electrification Programme grant (INEP) of the national Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. The entire project is costed at an estimated R58 million.

The construction is well underway with the civil engineering works to construct an engineered platform for the new substation. The construction of the platform, roadworks, oil dam, concrete plinths, installation of the watermains, sewer lines, the erection of the security fence and electrical infrastructure, that form part of the platform, are due for completion by the end of October 2022. The electrical design and procurement of material as per the final design for the electrical works has progressed well and this includes the steel supports, switchgear, earth mat, electrical protection and ripple control.

The substation’s construction consists mostly of the manufacturing, supply and installation of 11 kV and 66 kV equipment, two new 66/11 kV 20MVA power transformers and ancillary protection and control equipment and will commence early in 2023.

The planning for the substation goes as far back as 20 years ago, when the Ballots Bay 11 kV substation in the southern part of Thembalethu was established. This 11 kV substation project at the time also made provision for a 66 kV substation. The electrical masterplans for George indicated that a 66 kV substation would be needed in the future. An Environmental Impact Study (EIA) was finalized in 2008 to gain approval for the 66 kV powerline routes to the various proposed substations in George which included the powerlines to Thembalethu.

In 2011, the new 132 kV Schaapkop substation was established to provide sufficient capacity after the existing ESKOM bulk supply had reached capacity in George. The bulk municipal electrical supply to Thembalethu also reached capacity and had to be increased to enable the electrification program to continue. Funds were provided for the first phase of the establishment of the municipal 66 kV substation and the 66 kV power line from SS Protea in Pacaltsdorp to Thembalethu was built in 2014/15. This power line is energized at 11 kV to supplement the capacity and will be energized at 66 kV to supply the new 66 kV substation once it is completed.

During a UISP* (Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme ) community presentation in Thembalethu on July 2014, the public was updated about an analysis completed to determine the impact of the additional electrical load on the existing Thembalethu electrical network as a result of the electrification projects that had been completed. At this stage the first section of the 66 kV power line between Protea substation and Thembalethu’s 66/11 kV substation would have to be established and operated on 11 kV before any further electrification can take place. Further urgent upgrades included the establishment of the municipal 66/11 kV substation.

The electrification of the formalised, as well as informal areas in Thembalethu, cannot continue without the upgrading of the bulk services in Thembalethu. The establishment of the substation is a key project in this regard. Subsequently, the 66 kV power line section between Thembalethu and the Glenwood Substation in Knysna Road has also been completed to place the new Thembalethu 66 kV substation on a ring feed.


Photograph for illustrative purposes only.

Please watch the Director for Electrotechnical Services, Bongani Mandla
Please watch the Portfolio Cllr for Electrotechnical Services, Nosicelo Mbete