Distribution power cuts that have been experienced across the country have been attributed to mostly aged infrastructure, inadequate maintenance and in some instances, demand exceeding installed capacity. This was revealed by Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi who explained that aged infrastructure and a maintenance backlog result in network faults which include equipment failure, falling of wooden power line poles, water ingress into equipment, and trees getting in contact with live conductors resulting in sporadic short circuits during windy and rainy conditions. In some instances, he said that direct lightning strike on power infrastructure and causes power cuts. Other causes of power cuts on the distribution network include but are not limited to theft of copper conductors, damage of underground power cables from excavations by various entities and motorists colliding into power infrastructure, which is unfortunately on the increase. “There is no load shedding being undertaken countrywide as we have adequate electricity supply from our sources of supply which comprise domestic generation from Morupule Power Stations, A and B; power imports and emergency power generation facilities in Orapa and Matshelagabedi. “The power interruptions occasionally experienced in some parts of the country are attributed to distribution network faults notably during inclement weather conditions and to a lesser extent during the winter high demand season,” stated Moagi. He said it should be noted that some power interruptions are planned power outages to enable safe working on the power network by Botswana Power Corporation (BPC). Under such circumstances, BPC notifies customers in advance of the timing and duration of the planned power interruption, the minister said. According to Moagi, customers are encouraged to contact BPC Contact Centre if in doubt to ascertain whether there is planned outage or not. The minister pointed out that BPC has put measures in place to ensure a reliable and stable power supply in the country among them to address the issue of aged infrastructure and demand exceeding installed capacity, and annual budget provision is being made for refurbishment and reinforcement of the distribution network. “The intervention is in progress, and Phase 1 of the project has been completed, while Phase 2 is targeted for completion in May 2022. The third Phase has been commenced and should be completed by December 2022. “In areas where the network has been refurbished or reinforced, we see the stability and reliability of the power supply. To prevent power cuts attributed to maintenance backlog, BPC has embarked on a project which entails scoping and outsourcing of distribution maintenance works to contractors with adequate capacity in terms of equipment and manpower, and these mostly are citizen companies, to systematically clear the maintenance backlog area by area," he told Parliament. The project is at procurement stage and implementation will commence in the coming financial year. Moagi said that Government will be supporting BPC financially to execute the project. In the interim, while awaiting clearance of the maintenance backlog through outsourcing, the BPC is increasing its resources to quickly react to power cuts and reduce power restoration turnaround times. For the long term, BPC is reviewing its structures to ensure that system maintenance gets carried out timely to avoid accumulation of scheduled maintenance. The corporation is also liaising with Roads Department, Water Utilities Corporation, Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet), other telecommunication service providers, Botswana Police Service and scrap dealers to reduce power cuts attributed to underground cable damage from excavations and cable theft.
Power outages due to maintenance - Moagi
Friday, April 08, 2022