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Oct 10, 2008

Bedfordview electricity upgrade under way

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The planned R25-million upgrade of the underground cable network infrastructure of Bedfordview is under way, reports electrical engineering company CBI Electric Power Installations, part of the CBI Electric group.

In November 2007, Engineering News reported that the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality would be investing this money to upgrade and strengthen its electrical infrastructure following the spate of blackouts experienced during the year.

In May 2007, Bedfordview was significantly affected by a series of blackouts that lasted over 72 hours when a key Eskom supply cable failed. The blackout also highlighted metro-level weaknesses, which forced the muni- cipality to reinterrogate its infrastructural maintenance shortcomings. Businesses were said to have lost millions during the period as many were forced to close their doors.

Following the blackout, CBI African Cables and CBI Electric Power Installations were awarded the contract to upgrade the electrical system.

CBI Electric Power Installation commercial manager Mike Engelbrecht reports that the projects involve the manufacture, delivery to site and installation of 44 000-V, XLPE, CSA, and PE sheathed underground cables between Harper and Anne substations and Anne and Johnson substations. In addition to this, the extension of the existing 44 000-V underground network from substation Z to Anne substation is also being conducted.

The project will connect the main supply substations in the Bedfordview area in a ring formation. This method of network supply effectively ensures that consumers can be supplied from two different and isolable sources, thereby increasing security of supply and ensuring effective contingency planning.

Initial reports from the Ekurhuleni metropolitan council stated that the project would be completed by May or June this year. The council also reported that it would be a tight deadline to meet. Englebrecht reports that the company is targeting an early 2009 project completion deadline.

He adds that the company has a long history with the Ekurhuleni metropolitan council going back as far as 1985 when some of the first South African manufactured 132-kV cable, supplied by CBI Electric African Cables, was installed in Benoni. In addition to the high-voltage cable work, the company is currently also continuing with a long-standing supply agreement covering cables in the low- and medium-voltage range.

Commenting on the future outlook of the company in the industry, Engelbrecht says that the current local power cable market is buoyant owing primarily to the expenditure associated with the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“Beyond this horizon, market trading conditions are projected to remain positive in line with State-owned power utility Eskom’s capacity build programme. In order for local demands to be met, significant funds have been invested in upscaling of both plant capacity and human resources,” says Engelbrecht.

He adds that current countrywide skills shortages have gone hand in hand with the bolstering of internally focused training mechanisms aimed at ensuring that personnel are furnished with the necessary skills to continue to efficiently deliver a quality product to the marketplace.

Edited by: Laura Tyrer
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