State-owned power utility Eskom has approved phase two of its demand market participation (DMP) programme, which will include small industrial and commercial customers, Eskom senior integrated demand management GM Andrew Etzinger said on Wednesday.
The programme, which has involved about 20 large industrial users to date, entails the voluntary reduction of demand to assist with the balance of electricity supply and demand.
Etzinger said Eskom would look to provide the opportunity to maintain the balance by reducing demand, rather than increasing supply, to about 1 000 small industrial and commercial customers.
An international company with significant global experience in this space has been appointed as an aggregator and will manage this process, he told Engineering News Online.
Eskom hopes to achieve 500 MW load reduction through the aggregator demand response by winter 2012.
“This is great news and an exciting programme,” he said at the sixth Southern African Energy Efficiency Convention, in Johannesburg, having been notified before his presentation of the board’s decision to move forward with phase two.
He cautioned that the programme was only suitable to customers that had flexible manufacturing processes, as well as energy service companies (ESCos) .
Etzinger said there were “encouraging improvements” in the ESCos space, but to date only the top five companies were delivering 61% of the demand savings in the commercial side and 72% from the industrial sector.
ESCos are Eskom-approved energy saving companies, which identify opportunities within companies to reduce electricity consumption.
He said there was a great need for more black-empowered ESCos to come to the market.
Etzinger also warned that as South Africa moves further into the summer season and towards the holiday season, the possibility of power shortages moves towards “high risk”.
This was also the result of the majority of maintenance taking place during the summer months, with about a 10% generator outage.
The utility’s current generator outage was between 7% and 8%.
“We have been operating in ‘red’ for the past two weeks,” he said, adding the utility was driving its awareness campaign to ensure South African’s continued to display energy-saving behaviour.