27 February 2009 – Eskom’s proposed power conservation programme has come under scrutiny because of the way it could potentially affect the gross domestic product of South Africa and whether there will be sufficient human resources to manage the project.

The greatest concern is how the earnings of large energy users contributing to the South African economy will be affected because of the suggested tariffs that would be payable for excessive electricity consumption after a 12-month period.  Stakeholders feel that the fines are simply too disciplinary for large industry , as was exposed in the meeting held by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA).

In the initial phase, only the top 500 customers will be affected by the proposed constraints and phases thereafter will see the programme reaching all electricity  users throughout South Africa.

Deputy Director-General of the Department of Minerals and Energy, Nelly Magubane, stated that demand for electricity has declined since many large electricity using companies have shut, such as smelters. In order for the South African economy to be restored, a saving of about 26 TWh would be necessary, according to Corrie Visage, head of demand-side management at Eskom.

While industrial development is of concern, it is still imperative that electricity is conserved. There has been little response from independent power producers and cogeneration plant operators because of the risk involved owing to the regulatory structure.