Port Elizabeth of Yore: Ushering in the Age of Electrical Power

Initially it was conceived that the main use of electricity would for lighting as prior to the arrival of electricity, human activity virtually ceased at sunset. Before the age of domestic appliances, there were few uses for electrical power other than for lighting. To solve this drawback, gas had been introduced but its use had never gained traction.

This blog details the various attempts at generating electricity in Port Elizabeth, initially by means of generators and then later by means of the Mount Road Power Station. Much like the Betamax/VHS video format battle, electricity would come in two forms, Direct Current and Alternating Current, each with its own protagonists, benefits and drawbacks. Likewise, it would be cloaked in bitter divisiveness and controversy.

Main picture:  Installing overhead electricity cables

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Another example of Eskom’s lack of Maintenance

What most consumers of electricity in South Africa are unaware of is that with an installed capacity of 43 000MW, only 32 000MW is available. Of this 10 000MW the majority is not available due to unplanned maintenance; that is breakdowns.

While the newly appointed CEO at Eskom, Tshediso Matona, was last week performing a classic mea culpa by conceding that Eskom’s woes were self-inflicted, Jacob Zuma was telling the denizens of the Western Cape that Apartheid was culpable for the current crisis. On one point Mr Matona was adamant: Eskom had breached the golden rule of plant maintenance in that it had deferred planned maintenance due to political pressure. Examples cited were the World Cup and the 2014 Elections.

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