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Mafube Phela! Introduction

[UNDER CONSTRUCTION]


INTRODUCTION

Mafube Phela! is a community project, where active participation and buy-in by the community can make the effects of load shedding disappear for everyone who lives and works in our region.

 

The impact of load shedding

There can be no denying that load shedding has a massive negative impact on the economy of our Mafube region. We have seen a number of small businesses close their doors which led to an increase in unemployment, already at an unacceptably high level. It is the mission of Mafube Business Forum (MBF) to strive for prosperity and opportunities for all within our community. Rural Free State (RFS), the electrical service provider in the Mafube region to ca me up with a solution to alleviate the impact of load shedding in an affordable and sustainable manner. To us at MBF, it's about more than just being load-shedding-free - our bigger goal is not just to survive but to create an environment in which businesses can thrive. This will attract more investment to our region and thus create more jobs.

 

Solutions for our community and our country

RFS and community members have invested heavily in renewable energy, with solar “farms” built in Frankfort, Tweeling and Villiers. These already provide a sizable portion of the energy needs of our towns but due to the nature of solar-generated electricity, additional on-demand “dispatchable” power is required in order to be able to do away  with load shedding     . RFS came up with an elegant solution which we as a community now seek to implement, to deal with the issue and mitigate the effects of load shedding, efficiently and sustainably.

 

How will it work?

 

RFS reached an agreement with Eskom for implementing self loadshedding in the Mafube municipal area. Eskom is willing to accept load curtailment instead of loadshedding provided that when Eskom instructs RFS to reduce its electricity load by 20% RFS will do so. The 20% load reduction will then be made up by “dispatchable” energy generated by RFS from its own sources which will be an installed battery- and/ or diesel generator system. Each substation, of which there are many throughout the towns of our region, supply electricity to a certain area – it could be a number of business and/ or residential blocks and streets. When load curtailment occurs the shortfall of electricity is automatically and seamlessly dispatched to where it is required. Consumers will not notice any of the usual surges and dips associated with changing from one power source to another.

 

The trial period

 

A practice run was quietly started in the business center of Frankfort, to systematically remove consumers from load shedding and provide them with electricity 24/7 via the “Town Hall” substation. After achieving excellent results, the first residential zone, via the “Skoulaan” substation, was undertaken and is currently in progress. The results have been outstanding. From 7 November 2023 to date (1 March) consumers fed by the Town Hall substation have had 114 days of load shedding-free days and Skoulaan substation, from 28 December to date (1 March 2024), consumers enjoyed the benefit of 64 load shedding-free days. Under the usual circumstances, this would have meant that they were in the region of 298 and 242 hours respectively, i.e. more than 12 and 10 full days of load shedding. The positive tangible results and the overwhelming satisfaction among those, mostly business owners at this stage, benefitting from the project, confirmed its feasibility and sustainability. The hard work has now been done. and soon all four Mafube towns, namely Frankfort, Villiers, Tweeling and Cornelia, will no longer experience the crippling effects of load shedding. The decisive factor is that active community participation is needed to buy in and take ownership of the project.

 

The rollout and anticipated timeline

 

The rollout will be substation by  substation. Early on, businesses in the Frankfort CBD were prioritised, with the primary objective of avoiding job losses and encouraging further investment. Therefore, the first 2 substations (Stadsaal and Skoulaan) are now enrolled and almost fully “subscribed”, thanks to the support from businesses and residents in the area. Next up will be the “Van Reenenstraat” and Namahadi substations, and thereafter other substations will follow systematically.

 

The anticipated timeline is of course dependent on the buy-in from the community. If there is more interest in one area compared to another, with all things equal, the term “first come, first served” will apply. Our forecast is for most areas within Frankfort to be covered and load shedding-free by November 2024. This anticipated timeline does not necessarily mean consumers in other areas have to wait, it is envisaged that the project will run concurrently in other areas and towns.

 

Subscription required

 

A subscription to the load curtailment community project, may ensure participants of addition a dispatchable electricity capacity from Rural Free State, in order to reduce your hours of load shedding. This of course is dependent on the number of participating electricity consumers in that particular substation service area. If there is not sufficient participation then that substation services area will be excluded from the project. Participating consumers in this community program will have no load shedding up to Eskom’s Load Curtailment Stage 4. It is important to clarify that you as the subscriber are not purchasing an asset. You are subscribing to a service against the payment of an agreed amount. This amount varies according to the electricity usage for each consumer. There are only 2 basic categories for consumers:

 

  1. Less than 300kWh of electricity per month (average over 48 months)

  2. More than 300kWh of electricity per month (average over 48 months)

 

For consumers using less than 300 kWh of electricity per month, an additional monthly amount of 15% per month is required. This means that in the case of prepaid purchases, when the customer buys R100.00 of pre-paid electricity, the customer will get R85.00 electricity credit and R15.00 will be paid to Rural Free State as the usage fee, this usage fee is to contribute towards the operational cost of the diesel generators which provides the dispatchable energy. .

 

For consumer using more than 300 kWh per month, an additional monthly amount of only 10% per month is required. This means that in the case of prepaid purchases, when the customer buys R100.00 of pre-paid electricity, the customer will get R90.00 electricity credit and R10.00 will be paid to Rural Free State as the usage fee, this usage fee is to contribute towards the operational cost of the diesel generators which provides the dispatchable energy.

 

For consumers using more than 300 kWh per month, a once-off activation fee is required. This is however not straightforward percentage-based but calculated taking a number of factors into account.

  

5 Steps for signing up

 

Signing up is straight forward:

 

  1. As a first step, contact our team by the following means: a) e-mail an enquiry to info@mafubebf.org b) Send an enquiry via WhatsApp to 079 145 4295 c) Follow the link via the QR code on notices posted at participating businesses, the leaflets distributed throughout Mafube, in local newspapers, or on various Facebook pages. d) You may also call at our offices, at 18A Kerk Street in Frankfort.

  2. Provide the information required on the Mafube Phela! Application Form taking particular care to indicate your monthly usage either less or more than 300kWh on average per month. The form is available here: (click)  

  3. Submit the completed form by WhatsApp, e-mail or in person. Peruse the Terms and Conditions, available here: (click)

  4. The agreement will be forwarded to you via the means of communication chosen by you. Note that in the case of usage higher than 300 kWh per month, the once-off activation fee will be determined by RFS and communicated to you together with the Agreement.

  5. On receiving the Agreement, sign and return it via WhatsApp, e-mail or in person. If your usage exceeds 300kWh per month, the required once-off activation fee must be paid within 7 days as per the payment instructions.

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