Agri Kultuur December / Desember 2018 - Page 44

Electricity cuts a great irritation to fruit industry Carolize Jansen E skom, the national (and sole) electricity provider in South Africa has embarked on a programme of load shedding (planned power outages) as a result of maintenance on the grid. Such power outages are not new, but previously they’ve usually occurred in winter at times of high electricity demand. It’s unusual for Eskom to cut electricity during summer, and for stone fruit packhouses it couldn’t come at a worse time. It is expected that these rounds of load shedding – some parts of the Western Cape experiencing two daily cuts of approximately two hours duration each since last week – will have a significant impact on the stone fruit season. Fortunately, the load shedding programme is announced in advance (even if Eskom doesn’t always strictly keep to it, causing annoyance when workers have been told to remain at home and then there’s no power cut) and the duration is only between two to four hours at a stretch. Since the major power cuts of 2011 and 2007, most packhouses have invested in contingency plans and backup power generators and the impact of load shedding is therefore controlled. At the harbours the terminals are ensured of backup electricity, supplied by Transnet (the national port and rail company), so that there is no impact from power cuts at the points of loading. AgriKultuur |AgriCulture 44