Major electricity supply seen as boost

A R392-million Eskom-built substation unveiled in Mthatha yesterday is expected to boost electricity supply in the Eastern Cape.

The Vuyani substation located in Nonkobe village, a few kilometres outside the city centre, was unveiled by Public Enterprises Deputy Minister Bulelani Magwanishe and is officially the biggest substation in the province.

The project forms part of a  R2.6-billion Eastern Cape network strengthening scheme which includes new substations and upgrades to existing substations.

It is envisaged that the upgrades will help unlock investment opportunities by stabilising the power supply network in the province and create capacity.

Eskom group executive Mongezi Ntsokolo said the Vuyani substation would mostly benefit the Alfred Nzo, OR Tambo and Amathole districts.

He said the new facility would enable the connection of both domestic households and industries in the province.

“In some instances people do not want to invest in business because of things like electricity.

“We hope industries will start cropping up now.

“It will also help with fast-tracking the process of domestic electricity connections.”

Ntsokolo said the substation was the first 400kV infrastructure in the province. He said it consisted of two transformers and six 132kV feeder bays that would supply power in the southern region of the province.

“It is basically a transmission substation that has a high-voltage transmission line running from KwaZulu-Natal passing through Lusikisiki and Mthatha areas up to East London,” said Ntsokolo.

He said the seven new 132kV line feeder bays were responsible for the distribution of electricity to various local substations.

“So this means electricity won’t run out from the transmission substation.”

Construction on the substation started in April 2012 and was completed in June this year.

Some of those employed to work on the project have reportedly received skills that will enable them to find employment in other sectors of the economy. The training, which involved bricklaying, carpentry and electrical, formed part of Eskom’s commitment to skills development and localisation.

Scores of small businesses also benefited as they were used in providing services such as bush clearing, excavation, construction of access roads and stringing and cabling.

King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality mayor Nonkoliso Ngqongwa lauded the facility saying it would help rid the area of blackouts.

“It will also help us as we plan our integrated development plans as local government,” said Ngqongwa.

Magwanishe praised Eskom saying it marked the beginning of the end “to darkness”.

Eastern Cape legislature speaker Noxolo Kiviet, who was standing in for premier Phumulo Masualle, urged residents of Nonkobe to safeguard the substation.

“You should not allow anyone to come near the substation with the view of damaging the facility,” said Kiviet. —