Manuel-Chikwanda
Manuel Chikwanda – risk manager at Lion of Africa Insurance

Lion of Africa Insurance examines some of the potential risks associated with Eskom’s load shedding programme, as well as the measures to mitigate those risks. Forewarned is forearmed, and by adopting appropriate measures significant costs can be saved, writes Manuel Chikwanda, insurance risk manager at Lion of Africa Insurance

It is a certainty that load shedding is here to stay for some time to come. Although new power is set to come online as Eskom’s Medupi, Kusile and Ingula plants add to the generation capacity, the backlog remains high. In addition, existing power plants are in desperate need of maintenance, which will result in temporary loss of capacity.

Implications for consumers and municipalities

Apart from the loss of productivity, which all power users suffer when load shedding occurs, consumers also face the loss of equipment that needs power to operate. This risk is compounded as power surges, which can temporarily raise the voltage in electronic circuits from a few hundred to as much as several thousand volts when the electricity supply is restored. This can damage electrical or electronic equipment, even if the surge lasts a mere millisecond.

The more sensitive the equipment, the more at risk it is. Electric and electronic devices face two risks from power surges: they are exposed to substantially more power than they were designed to withstand, which can burn them out; and smaller surges can damage the wiring and components, which leads to failure after repeated surges.

Power distributors, such as municipalities, face the risk of damage to their switchgear – the switching devices used to regulate the power system. Increased usage of switchgear for load shedding purposes means that they face a heavier duty cycle. The more frequent operation means that the maintenance cycle will be shorter. For example, if under normal circumstances the maintenance cycle is 24 month…

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