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Eskom: power tripping across the universe January 19, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Life, South Africa.

Were you load-shed yesterday? I was load-shed twice, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and Eskom is “predicting” more rolling power blackouts for the weekend, or until the end of next week, or for the next three weeks, or whatever…

At about 2.15 am on Thursday morning, a “problem with the electronic component on one of the turbines” in one of the two reactors at Koeberg nuclear power station caused it to “trip”, compounding problems at other power stations around the country and necessitating the latest dose of load-shedding.


You’ve got to love that word: load-shedding. It’s spin at its best and makes power cuts sound like they’re almost a good thing, conjuring up images of obese people loosing loads of weight in the latest dieting revolution.

What always amazes me is the response of Capetonians to the recurring “problems” at Koeberg. We just want our bloody lights back on, thank you very much. Nobody seems to even think about the fact that we’re talking about a frigging NUCLEAR power station right in our very back yard.

All those of us who even give it a second thought need is to be told that the reactor is in “a safe shutdown” condition and its very existence slips our collective minds until the next power trip.

A particularly inane comment by Saleem Mowzer of Red1 (the Cape metropole’s regional electricity distributor) in yesterdays Cape Argus says it all: “It’s good to know that Koeberg’s safety measures are operating as they should.” Good to know, indeed, Mr. Mowzer!

The other thing I find striking is our beloved country’s rather warped relationship with electric power in general: we have some of the cheapest power in the world (I guess Telkom is trying to offset this by providing some of the most expensive telephone/internet rates on the planet), but we can’t make enough of it to keep everyone’s pool pumps and electrified fencing going and yet we bend over backwards to lure the most energy-sapping industries to our shores… you go figure.



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