Inside the BHP Billiton
smelter, which had its
power supply interrupted
by Eskom this month
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 30 May 2011 – Eskom Holdings Limited “’ which supplies about 95% of South Africa’s electricity “’ has revealed that  it interrupted power supplies to BHP Billiton Limited’s smelters this month to help manage tight supplies in colder weather.

Eskom has also been using its gas turbines more than usual during May, Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said by phone.

The state-owned utility has an agreement with BHP to interrupt electricity as one of several mechanisms to manage the country’s power grid. Eskom also switches on gas-fired plants, which are expensive to run, during peak times.

Demand is rising in the country where energy shortages caused rolling blackouts and temporarily shut the world’s largest platinum mines in January 2008.

Eskom has warned that the gap between demand and supply will be “tight” at least until the first unit of the Medupi plant “’ which is part of a R485 billion expansion programme “’ starts generating power in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Eskom said last month it was unable to carry out sufficient maintenance ahead of South Africa’s winter, when usage peaks, because demand is too high to shut plants. Demand rose 1.4% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to Statistics South Africa.