Welcome to Megaplex's monthly newsletter alerting the up-market shopper to the new and interesting in northern Sandton and Bryanston. Please feel free to support our advertisers! To subscribe, see our subscription page.
We interrupt this month's shopping news to gripe about the Prince of Darkness.
First, some background:
Photovoltaic (PV) panels make electricity from sunshine. The panels (often mounted on the roof) generate Direct Current (DC). This can be stored in batteries. DC from solar panels or batteries is fed through an "inverter", which converts it to 220-250 V Alternating Current (AC), the same current we get from the mains.
With sufficient batteries and solar panels, it is possible to be independent of the mains (the "grid"), to have an "off-grid system".
Batteries are expensive, and there may not be enough panels to go entirely off-grid. The alternative is a "grid-tied system". Here, there are no batteries. The inverter supplies the building and is connected to the mains power supply. When the solar power is insufficient for the building (for example, at night), it draws its extra needs from the grid. When the inverter is putting out more electricity than the building needs, the excess can be fed back into the grid. This can turn a rotary electricity meter backwards and reduce the electricity bill.
Inverters available now in South Africa synchronise the power exactly to the grid, matching voltage and phase frequency. If the grid shuts down, the inverter switches off immediately: There is no chance of feeding power into a dead grid and harming staff working on the lines.
We now come to Eskom.
It is no secret that the company is deeply in crisis. Having postponed maintenance in order to keep the lights on during the last election, they are now having to do emergency repairs as plants fail. They have spent their year's budget running oil-fired power stations, intended for peak use only, at R3/kWh, which is double to triple what they sell the power for. Eskom now needs a multi-million Rand bailout if it is not to go bankrupt. It is so short of generating capacity that rolling blackouts, euphemistically called "load shedding", are being employed almost at random. The damage that this is doing to our economy is immense, no matter the brave face that our out-of-touch President puts on it at Davos.
In short, Eskom is terribly short of power. Everybody knows it, and any sane person would expect them to welcome contributions from all available sources, right?
–Including PV from houses and businesses, right?
With our January Eskom account, we got a "Customer Bulletin" that reads, in part:
"The Eskom framework for connecting small-scale generators (typically rooftop PV) to the low-voltage network is in the process of being developed. ... Until such time as the framework is in place, no small-scale generator connections will be allowed to be grid-tied to Eskom’s low-voltage networks ... Eskom will also not allow meters to turn backwards..."
We received the identical leaflet in October, November, and December 2014.
Clearly, some genius at Eskom is unconscious –and has been for four months!
Surely, Eskom should be fast-tracking its arrangements to allow houses and businesses to install PV and connect to the grid?
Even subsidising them, as they did with solar hot water?
With an investment of R100,000 to R200,000, a suburban house can supply between a third and 100% of its power requirements, depending on how carefully the inhabitants use electricity. This is not a small investment, but it can be financed with a bank loan or a re-advance on an existing home loan. It will pay for itself in 8-12 years; earlier if Eskom rates rise faster than hitherto. The PV system can generate electricity for 20-25 years. It is even possible to become a net supplier of power; many Germans now sell power to the electricity companies. The UK has 510,000 domestic small scale PV installations.
From the point of view of the ecology and slowing climate change, installing solar power is the responsible thing to do. It allows a household or business to reduce its electricity bill and make a contribution to the country in the process.
Only the blind stupidity of Eskom stands in our way. Write now to the newspapers, Eskom, and your municipality (Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni Electricity) and insist that Eskom should allow –and preferably subsidise– low-voltage PV generation connected to their grid!
"And who are you at this fancy-dress party?"
"They call me... 'The Prince of Darkness'."
"Funny, you don't look like Satan."
"I'm even more fiendish... I'm the CEO of Eskom."
New on the Block Back to top
Restaurant Reviews by Judith Back to top
**** Caffe Della Salute, 17 Autumn Road, off Rivonia Road, Rivonia (Revisit)
As promised, we went back for lunch, this time on a really perfect day! The greeting was professional and welcoming. The restaurant was not particularly busy and we were able to find a table by the window and keep cool. We ordered an Appletiser and their Protea Sauvingon Blanc. The latter proved to be a very pleasant wine indeed and was served with plenty of ice.
To eat, I chose the Sailor's Curry, replete with prawns, and my companion the Snob pasta. Both were excellent and very filling. Altogether a very enjoyable lunch with excellent service. Will definitely return!
Funny Language, English...
You have a better chance of dying at age 80 than at 20.
What's "better" about that?
Gone, All Gone! Back to top
Julius says you can't refute his policy if you've never futed it before.
Green Tip Back to top
Right, so if you are fed up with load-shedding and would like to do something while the lights are off, join the Democratic Alliance in picketing outside Eskom's Megawatt Park head office. Provisionally scheduled for 09:00 on Wednesday, 4 February: Please get confirmation here first. Bring your own water-cannon.
Security Tips from Sandton Community Police Forum Back to top
Have you really locked your car? Criminals loiter in parking lots or sit in vehicles and over-ride your ‘remote’ signal as you ‘click’ and casually walk away. You may think you’ve locked your car, but it is still open. When you’re away, items of value are swiftly removed. No broken glass, no forced entry –and no insurance payout.
Store all items in your boot, but don’t pack away in full view of the criminals lurking in the parking lots. Lock your car with your key or, if you use electronic means, physically check the doors before leaving.
Prevent “Smash & Grabs” by keeping seats and floor clear of valuables when driving and by keeping all doors locked. Keep your windows closed at intersections. Continually check that you are not being followed.
Be aware – be safe.
"Hello Cindy! How's your engagement to that twin going?"
"Unfortunately it isn't. I found out that he had an artificial leg, so I broke it off."
Your name in print! Would you like to contribute a shop- or restaurant review, a better joke than ours, an event, or something else for this Newsletter? Please e-mail us. You will get full credit (unless you want anonymity). Reach (a new milestone!) 6105 shoppers and shop-owners: Advertise in this newsletter! Editor: Rick Raubenheimer.