Western Cape Disaster Management head lays out blackout contingency plan | Western Cape Government


Western Cape Disaster Management head lays out blackout contingency plan

16 March 2023

Media release: #EnergyDigicons – Western Cape Disaster Management head lays out blackout contingency plan for the province

At the Western Cape Government’s (WCG) weekly Energy Digicon today Colin Deiner, the Chief Director: Disaster Management and Fire/Rescue Services, detailed the province’s blackout contingency plan.

At the outset, Mr. Deiner stressed the plan is put together in the event of a worse-case scenario. “Our job is to protect the province. We look at what is the worst thing that could happen and then we plan around that,” said Mr. Deiner. He emphasised, however, for the time being, that there is a low probability of a total blackout.

He pointed out that the main priorities of the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) and its partners are to save lives and protect the safety of citizens.

Premier Alan Winde added, “It is better to be overprepared for any eventuality than to be caught off guard.”

Deiner outlined the possible risks that could lead to blackouts which include:

  • Primary energy constraints;
  • Generation plant performance;
  • Infrastructure damage; and
  • Industrial social unrest

He went on to explain the process which authorities, among them Eskom and disaster and emergency management officials, will follow in the event of a total blackout to stabilise and return the power grid to operation:

Should there be a complete blackout, the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) has a number of priority areas:

  • Water;
  • Sewerage;
  • Transport and mobility;
  • Health;
  • Emergency services;
  • Communications/telecommunications and information technology;
  • Commercial industrial;
  • Law enforcement and security services; and
  • Fuel security

The PDMC’s broader preparations include:

  • A major electricity disruption contingency plan;
  • Ensuring standby procedures are in place;
  • Low activation and monitoring of the impact;
  • Institutional arrangements in place – electricity disruption task team;
  • Local disaster management centres are placed on high alert to assess risks; and
  • Radio communications

Mr. Deiner offered advice to the public as to how to prepare yourself for a scenario where the power grid collapses or there are extended levels of loadshedding:

  • Know your loadshedding schedules;
  • Ensure you have a stock of chronic medication;
  • Ensure security systems will work during loadshedding; and
  • Ensure access to emergency lighting

During today’s digicon, Mr. Alwie Lester, Special Advisor on Energy to the Premier, explained that the Provincial Government has implemented a “Proposal Funnel”. This is a website where members of the public who believe they have workable solutions to assist the WCG in addressing the power crisis can submit their proposals for consideration.

The Premier also gave an update on the outcome of the latest Energy Council meeting, held yesterday.

Eskom Group Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer was invited to give a presentation on various aspects relating to South Africa’s energy crisis.

Mr. Oberholzer told the council, that Eskom has endeavoured to be as open and honest with the people of South Africa as it can. He was frank reiterating Eskom’s generation capacity has declined dramatically due in part to its maintenance plan not yielding expected results. He advised the Western cape Government to develop:

  • An Integrated Resource Plan and
  • Demand Side Management programme

Both of these initiatives are already part of the province’s energy plan. The country also requires a hybrid power system, he added.

In the Western Cape Budget, delivered by Finance and Economic Opportunities Minister Mireille Wenger on Tuesday, the Provincial Government has been allocated R1.1 billion towards making the province energy secure. This was lauded by Mr. Oberholzer.

He added five issues need to be urgently addressed by Eskom management simultaneously if rolling blackouts are to be limited and eventually ended:

  • Continuously investing in human capital;
  • Ensuring the availability of financial resources;
  • Dramatically building up backup generation capacity;
  • Ramping up maintenance of existing infrastructure and
  • Dealing decisively with criminality at the power utility.

Mr. Oberholzer said, “The State of Disaster (over the energy crisis) will open doors,” adding Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramakopa must be given the mandate and support he needs to address the crisis.

Premier Winde, who chairs the council, said “The Western Cape Government (WCG) should not only view the crisis through a disaster lens but also through a proactive management and longer-term planning lens.” This was backed by Mr. Oberholzer.

The GCOO concluded his meeting with the council by admitting while the situation is serious, “We are not close to a power “Day Zero.”

To watch a recording of this week’s digicon please visit: