Peter Neilson, Acting Executive Director of Electricity and Energy for Nelson Mandela Bay has been hosting a delegation from Électricité de France (EDF) who are providing suggestions to the Municipal Electricity Department on how to become more efficient.
EDF is similar to Eskom in that it specialises in electricity, from engineering to distribution. The company’s operations include the following: electricity generation and distribution; power plant design, construction and dismantling; energy trading; and transport. It is active in such power generation technologies as nuclear power, hydropower, marine energies, wind power, solar energy, biomass, geothermal energy and fossil-fired energy.
85% owned by the French Government EDF was the world’s largest producer of electricity in 2009. In 2011, it produced 22% of the European Union’s electricity, primarily from its 58 active nuclear reactors spread out over 20 sites.
The five person strong team from EDF spent from 6 to 23 March 2017 in Port Elizabeth and were once again in PE from 12 to 23 June and comprised: Jean Luc Farges (Project Manager), Thierry Leroux (Network Expert), Jacques Horville (Senior Expert), Sylvain Jeuhanneas (Network Expert) and Marina Berthwt (Customer Expert).
The EDF team examined the Physical Network, Personnel, Systems and challenges in order to present a report today to the Acting Executive Mayor, Mongameli Bobani and Municipal officials on unlocking savings and improving revenue.
On the back of a close to R600 Million set of losses representing around 20% of total billing on the network in 2015/16 the team highlighted the following:
- 14% is attributable to electricity losses on the Low Voltage network
- Of that 14% – 6% is a result of technical losses due to aging equipment and network, 1.5% is due to lighting, leaving 6.5% to theft and illegal connections
- 7.5% of losses are attributable to unpaid invoices
It is estimated that there are around 25 000 illegal connections in the Nelson Mandela Bay area and as Jean Luc Farges said; “Bypassing of meters is normally done by professionals.”
The twin demands on the infrastructure of high growth – 70 000 electricity connections have been made since 1994 – and the ATTP programme have contributed to the increased demand on an ageing infrastructure and the lack of capital to keep up with technology.
The Electricity and Energy Department has 38 of its 600 employees dedicated to the ATTP Programme. The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is also generous with its allocation of free electricity to qualifying consumers – giving 74 free units a month, which is 50% more than the legislated number of 50 units of free electricity per month. In France they administer the programme differently: Consumers who qualify for assistance get a certain amount of electricity paid for them via a grant system which relieves the power generating authority from carrying the burden directly.
Only 7% of all metered clients are on the credit system.
The EDF Team highlighted that the department appears to be on a downward trend in terms of profitability. The ratio of employees to clients is 1:500. The calibre of professionals working in the department came in for praise in light of the fact that they are keeping the equipment going and serviceable in an aged High Voltage System which is expensive to run especially with three sets of voltage levels.
EDF appear confident that they can find R115 Million of savings by getting the illegal connections and processes under control. International best practice and experience in Abidjan has shown that the payback in investment on ageing infrastructure can be over three years.