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Rural Free State (RFS), the electricity supplier that serves the Mafube community in the North-East Free State, has just announced its plans to finally make the entire municipal area "load shedding-free" - a first sustainable effort in South Africa.


A community project, where active participation and buy-in by the community can make the effect of load shedding disappear for everyone!


The run-up: As part of this community project, from which the whole of Mafube will benefit, RFS, in collaboration with local farmers and business owners, set up a solar farm to power their new "agri village" development which for a while already, generates enough power to supply almost all of the town of Frankfort with electricity. There has also already been a 980KVA solar farm set up in the Villiers area to supply power to pumps and pivots and the new planned vegetable hydroponics production project on the farm. In addition, it will provide surplus energy to the town of Villiers. The 480KVA solar farm in Tweeling already supplies power to Tweeling as well as the planned Tweeling "agri village" processing area. Eskom agreed at the end of 2023 that RFS can alleviate the impact of load shedding in our area, provided that a specific form of power is used as a supplement to the load when Eskom requires load curtailment. RFS immediately got to work on it and already in November 2023 invested in this so-called "dispatchable power on demand", which basically refers to batteries and generators. 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. It is planned to tackle the project one substation at a time. With buy-in from the community, Frankfort can be load-shedding-free by September. Villiers and Tweeling will soon follow, even if Frankfort has yet to be completed.


Results achieved: So far the results are excellent. 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 impact on smaller businesses in particular is enormous: increased productivity and better service delivery to their customers. All made possible by the available dispatchable power that was deployed to reduce the load on Eskom.


Work done: RFS in the process of getting the infrastructure in place to offer all four Mafube towns, namely Frankfort, Villiers, Tweeling and Cornelia, relief from load shedding. When the community buys into the "alternative" generation program, the reality is that load shedding in Mafube would be a thing of the past within a few months. The hard work has already been done. The decisive factor is that active community participation is needed.


In collaboration with the Mafube Business Forum (MBF), it will now continue to inform residents and businesses about how to get involved in this community project. 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.


This community project is feasible and sustainable with tangible results; this follows the upgrading of distribution networks and new networks that have been built, viz. solar farms at Frankfort, Tweeling and Villiers that are already in operation, and the on-demand dispatchable power sources that are being rolled out. Residents and business owners will be kept constantly informed of the progress.

For further information and participation, e-mail or WhatsApp/call 079 145 4295

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