Eskom turns off BHP smelters


Buildings in the Johannesburg CBD remain lit up despite Eskom's call to conserve energy.

Johannesburg - Two BHP Billiton energy-gobbling aluminium smelters were temporarily turned off by Eskom on Thursday night because demand for electricity exceeded availability.

Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said on Thursday night after the peak consumer usage period that the demand for electricity had been more than 35,000MW between 5pm and 9pm, and that Eskom could only supply 34,970MW.

Eskom had an agreement with BHP Billiton and other companies to temporarily cut power during peak consumer usage times.

Prevailing cold weather conditions and the coming long weekend had resulted in Eskom&39;s availability being exceeded, Joffe said.

However, Thursday night&39;s surge in demand had proceeded uneventfully without power cuts to general consumers because some of Eskom&39;s other large clients had agreed to lower their consumption.

Thursday night was, according to Joffe, a good example of an earlier warning that South Africans would have to be frugal with their power consumption during the winter months.

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