Johannesburg electricity utility, City Power, has invested an estimated ZAR267 million ($23 million) in replacing low voltage (LV) copper overhead power lines over the past four years, the SA news reported on Monday.

Executive mayor Parks Tau instituted the replacement decision during the 90-Day Mayoral Programme in 2011 in attempts to curb power cable theft which is costing the country an estimated ZAR5 billion ($427 million) a year.

City Power said that “A further ZAR360 million [$30 million] will be invested in this aluminium infrastructure, which is less prone to theft over the next three financial years, bringing the total expenditure over a seven-year period to more than ZAR627 million [$53 million]”.

“About ZAR60 million [$5 million] will be spent in the 2015/16 financial year and another ZAR160 million [$13 million] in the financial year thereafter. The balance of ZAR140 million [$11 million] will be spent on the project in the 2017/18 financial year”, City Power continued.

Cabling system costs

According to Matshidiso Mfikoe, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Environment and Infrastructure Services, the cabling system was piloted in Chrisville, Rosettenville, Hyde Park and Bramley costing ZAR14.84 million ($1 million) in 2011 and 2012.

This was increased to ZAR123.9 million ($10 million) in 2013. The budget for the project increased again to ZAR78.3 million ($7 million) in 2013 – 2014 and ZAR60 million ($5 million) in the current financial year.

“The purpose of this project is to convert the current problematic low voltage distribution system to a more desirable and reliable system in various identified areas. The whole idea is to minimise power outages and prevent infrastructure theft”, Mfikoe said.

He added: “With copper LV lines, when we experience a lot of wind accompanied by rain, power lines are tripped and we have outages. But with these aerial bundle conductors (ABC) conductors, we don’t experience that. There have been fewer power outages in affected areas since we installed the ABC system”.

“These conductors are made of aluminium encased in tough PVC sheathing and are of less value to the thieves. The conductors have also proved to be much more durable in various environmental conditions and are not prone to theft”, Mfikoe continued.

In areas where this system has been installed there is less infrastructure theft due to the larger size of the conductors.

The ABC system has been installed in 22 areas including Mayfair West, Westdene, Melville, Sandringham, Orange Grove, Jeppestown and Regents Park to name a few.

(Pic Credits: hdwallpap)