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YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

How to cut the Eskom cord – your Stage 6 questions answered

How to cut the Eskom cord – your Stage 6 questions answered

Load shedding is on our minds this week as we navigate ways to keep the lights on.

We are so sorry for what you are going through with power cuts that have become such an overwhelming part of our lives. We know that many South Africans (still) have never had electrified homes and that it is not our fault. But, still, the answers you shared to our questions about power cuts show how deeply Stage 6 has cut.

 

 

What is interesting from your answers is how many of you have put in solar installations, either small enough to get by, or big enough to go near-grid-free.  

This guide by Sukasha Singh on how she installed solar power at home is both funny and helpful. She helps you through it by highlighting possible pitfalls she experienced when she moved much of her home (and her mom) off the Johannesburg city grid, which is still supplied by Eskom.  

And so is this article by Toby Shapshak on how his solar installation has changed his family’s life.  

Eskom cord-cutting is gaining traction

Getting off the grid completely is still a way off, but the trend of as many people as possible cutting the Eskom cord is gaining traction as the supply gets less and less stable and predictable. Many of you have also invested in power inverters big enough to make a difference.   

Here is Tim Cohen’s take on what it would take to get the small town he lives in onto its own system. It’s a marvellous read. Micro-grids are going to be a bigger and bigger story. Stay tuned. 

Tim’s is really big-blue-sky thinking and we do hope our country will get to these kinds of solutions. In the meantime, we must make plans for our lives and sometimes these aren’t sufficient. Power cuts harm people in already vulnerable positions.

But they have also highlighted that great South African spirit of making a plan and getting by. Thank you for sharing your spirited endeavours in the face of a depleting trend – that big spirit now needs a government, an electricity utility and regulators of equal heart. 

“I had to buy an inverter as I am dependent on supplementary oxygen. But the present rate of load shedding doesn’t allow the inverter to recharge fully.”

Another reader shared: “We have a back-up battery that currently kicks in to supply us with power for basic needs, which in our case includes a ventilator and medical machines for a severely physically challenged 18-year-old.”

Because Eskom is a monopoly, very few of us can cut the cord completely.

“We have solar and an inverter but not enough to last the night. We have a back-up generator (too). But (we) still rely on Eskom between load shedding to power the house and recharge batteries. We are basically self-sufficient, but not totally. Provided we can get two sets of three hours of Eskom power, we’re okay,” a reader said.  

Read in Daily Maverick: “Four energy experts tell us what needs to be done to end Eskom’s electricity crisis

Eskom’s limping supply has forced those of us with electricity to retreat to old energy use. 

“I have resorted to using wood for cooking and candles for lighting the house.”

Another reader said:

“It’s back to basics. Paraffin is back in use as an alternative. Just for cooking and lights. No electronics.”  

Another said:

“I grew up with lamps and candles in the (Bantustan) Ciskei, so we have reverted back 60 years. I have a small UPS (uninterrupted power supply) connected to a truck battery in order to teach uninterruptedly online. I even use an ancient push-push lawnmower to lessen grid pressure.”  


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What struck us is that the latest round of power cuts (the longest and highest sustained stretch of scheduled cuts by Eskom since 2007) has resulted in some despondency and anxiety.

“The sense of despondency these power cuts create is terrible,” read one answer. 

This graphic shows your hacks for getting through Stage 6

Thank you for sharing your hacks and we hope they offer food for thought. We haven’t included it here, but a common answer to our question on how you are coping with Stage 6 power cuts was: “I emigrated.”  

Change is coming as more and more companies generate their own energy, as Neesa Moodley reported above. If the momentum of agreed policy shifts continues and this own-generation is “wheeled” onto the grid and transmitted into a more competitive generation system, the electricity picture can shift quickly. But that shift will require all of us to lobby for that change.  

We will continue to write up your answers into helpful stories as we work with you to get through this difficult period.

Do stay strong and enjoy the spring. As usual, we bring you our inspiring and uplifting selection from Daily Maverick.

Keep scrolling for your uplifting news round-up

 

Recently we took inspiration from: a 21-year-old self-taught car designer from KwaZulu-Natal who has built his own “Bugatti Shark” from scratch using his hands and old material that he bought with his R350 Social Relief of Distress grant.

We were deeply moved by: The voice of an angel, Anneli Kamfer, a performer from the Western Cape town of Swellendam, as she sings a powerful new song, Eve of Destruction, released by Daily Maverick.

We applauded: an institute that advocates for children. The Cape Town Museum of Childhood is a space where young people can feel celebrated.

Otherwise, we were happily diverted by:

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