By Antonio Ruffini

17 July 2013 – Over its last reporting period, ending March 31st 2013, Eskom’s energy losses increased to 9.1% compared with 8.7% the previous year. The energy losses reflect the difference between the quantity of energy sent out from the power stations and that sold to Eskom’s various customers.

Of the 9.1% total, 2.8% is accounted for by transmission losses, an improvement from the 3.1% the previous year. The remaining 7.1% distribution loss is split into 4.2% of technical losses, deterioration from the 3.8% of the previous year, and 2.8% of non-technical losses, deterioration from the 2.5% of the previous year.

Eskom group executive distribution, Ayanda Noah, says that the reason for the deterioration in distribution technical losses is due to an increase in the proportion of sales to lower volume usage customers versus the utility’s large customers served at a high voltage level.

The increase in non-technical losses is associated with meter tampering, illegal electricity connections and copper theft. Eskom says that high levels of copper and pylons theft persist. During the year that ended March 31st 2013 Eskom’s losses due to conductor theft, including the theft of copper, cable, transformers and tower related structures totalled R50.5 million and involved 5,187 incidents.

Steps are being taken to fight conductor theft, including the implementation of the new Second Hand Goods Ace on the 30th of April 2012 followed by aggressive policing of the scrap industry. Eskom says this is helping, as is a joint working group to deal with the issue, and whose members include Eskom, Telkom, Transnet and the South African Police Services among others.

Noah says that the Eskom led operation Khanyisa strategy and initiatives to promote energy efficiency and reduce theft have assisted in arresting and containing non-technical energy losses, and that these are being contained within acceptable parameters despite the negative pressures of the general economic climate and tariff increases.