The demand for diesel generators is spiking as unions protest in the streets outside Eskom's Megawatt Park headquarters in Johannesburg.
Union members demand a salary hike of 15%, while Eskom is offering 0%. The utility on Thursday afternoon said the power supply is constrained due to "several incidents of road blockades, attacks on staff, and wilful damage of electricity infrastructure".
As a result, all road coal deliveries have been stopped for security reasons, it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, generator providers are doing a roaring trade.
“We’ve had more orders in the last 24 hours than in the last 18 months. As of this morning 90% of our entire fleet of 1,000 generators has been booked out,” said Tony Sibanda, managing director of Generator and Plant Hire South Africa, which has offices nationwide.
Sibanda says renting a generator can cost between R1,500 a day up to R30,000 to R40,000 per week, depending on size.
Second-tier generators are in particular demand at the moment, he says. These are generators that can provide 60 kilovolt-amps (KVa) to 500 KVa, which are capable of powering streets, small malls, restaurants, and refrigerators in the food industry.
A generator manufacturer, Elegen, says demand has been on the rise since the beginning of the year.
“2018 has been one of our biggest years yet. We’ve had 360 orders since January, just to give you an idea,” said Christopher Hinckley, managing director at Elegen, which is based in Edenvale, Johannesburg.
The company manufactures its own large-scale generators in South Africa supplying power to cell phone call centres, mines, and even portable television broadcasting centres.
Hinckley says business has been booming, not only just because of recent “panic buying”, but also to secure consistent power as Eskom struggles with cable theft and faulty equipment at sub-stations.
“Also, we believe Eskom is (deploying) load shedding (in) smaller municipalities in order to enforce payments, which is then forcing smaller companies to buy generators for consistent power,” he said.
You have two options: hiring or buying.
A Johannesburg-based generator hiring company was willing to rent us a small generator, that can power your house with multiple appliances, for R380 per day with a R2,000 refundable deposit. You'll need proof of residence.
An AVR generator, which provides a consistent 230 volts of power, and runs on either petrol or diesel (bought form your local petrol station) should be adequate.
You could also buy one from your local building warehouse for around R6,000.
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