Bloemfontein’s electricity crisis
On May 27, 2011, Bloemfontein suffered a major blackout due to a power failure in one of its primary electricity distribution centres, the 132 kV/33 kV/11 kV Bayswater, which provides approximately a third of the city’s electricity supply.
The power failure also triggered a water supply crisis, as Bayswater is the power source for the city’s main water supply. “While Bayswater was down Bloemfontein was solely reliant on its own internal supply from Maselspoort Water Treatment Works, which provides 40% of the potable water,” said Leon Kritzinger, Executive Manager, Engineering, of Centlec, Bloemfontein’s electricity supply company.
The problem was due to a failure of the power transformer at Bayswater. Centlec personnel immediately sprang into action, contacting Eskom and all local power transformer manufacturers to see if an 80 MVA replacement unit was available to replace the failed one.
Fortunately ACTOM Power Transformers had a transformer of the required rating at its Wadeville, Germiston, plant that it had just completed manufacturing and testing as one of number of 80 MVA units on order from Eskom. The company’s top management quickly consulted with the relevant Eskom executives and it was soon agreed that the available unit be supplied for installation at Bayswater to get it up and running again as quickly as possible.
“The transformer was offered to Centlec within a day of our receiving their first request and they formally placed an order with us a few days later. Some minor modifications had to be made to the transformer to suit their specific requirements,” commented Ronnie Russell, ACTOM Power Transformers’ General Manager.
“It was commissioned at Bayswater on July 8, a little over a month after the blackout occurred. We were pleased to be able to help them out. It was a great team effort between Centlec, Eskom and ourselves.”
ACTOM (Pty) Ltd is the largest manufacturer and distributor of electrical equipment in South Africa, employing about 6 000 people and with an annual order intake in excess of R5bn. It is a black empowered company with 33 operating units, 27 production facilities and 28 distribution centres throughout South Africa.
ACTOM partners Alstom France for environmental equipment and in serving the maintenance, upgrade and retrofit market for larger boilers, as well as for railway transport activities.
ACTOM holds exclusive distribution, technology and representation rights for Alstom Grid (formerly the Transmission business of Areva T&D) in Southern Africa and maintains management, technical and commercial links to Alstom Grid business units in Europe.
Following the acquisition by Schneider Electric of the global Distribution business of Areva T&D, the distribution, technology and representation agreements that existed between ACTOM and Areva will remain in place until such time as a new agreement has been concluded.
ACTOM formerly traded under the name Alstom South Africa and re-branded to ACTOM in September 2009.