Wonderpark gets power generators as Eskom struggles

The Wonderpark Shopping Centre in Pretoria stands to be saved from trading disturbances caused by load shedding via a R17.6 million investment into temporary power generators.

With that decision Wonderpark propels a growing movement into alternative temporary and permanent power supplies taking off across the South African property industry. A huge industry is developing around this space as South Africa moves to readjust for a struggling national power grid.

The investment was announced this week by Wonderpark owner, the JSE listed property fund Emira. James Templeton, CEO of Emira, said “With Eskom not able to guarantee the supply of electricity to business, it has become necessary to investigate other power sources that will be able to keep businesses operating through load shedding. It looks like load shedding is going to be a reality for the next couple of years at least. Unfortunately, it has become the norm.”

For Wonderpark Shopping Centre, daily load shedding is scheduled at its busiest time of day, from 4pm to 6.30pm. In addition, for stage three load shedding, the mall is switched off from 8am to 10.30am.

Templetion said “Customers that leave the centre during load shedding tend not to return when the power does eventually come back on.”

he noted that it isn’t only load shedding that has left the mall powerless, but its knock-on effects too, such as the damage to infrastructure as a result of electricity being switched on and off, as well as security risks.

All this has led to Emira shelling out R17,6 million for generators to be installed at Wonderpark Shopping Centre to ensure it can trade through load shedding periods, as well as any other power outages that may arise.

Five generators will be connected to the mall’s substations, providing sufficient power to run all retailers that do not currently have their own generators. This means stores will be able to trade as usual. The project to install the generators will be complete by mid August.

“The generators will give Wonderpark Shopping Centre a competitive advantage. Customers can be assured they can complete their shopping, even during load shedding. It also creates a safe and welcoming place where people can come during load shedding to get a warm meal, get their shopping or banking done, see their favourite sports on TV or enjoy a family outing,” says Templeton. “Importantly, this investment supports our tenants’ trading.”

Emira has also ventured into the renewable energy space. It recently installed a R6 million solar farm on the roof of its Epsom Downs Shopping Centre in Bryanston, Sandton. This pilot project is Emira’s first step in adding renewable energy solutions to its quality portfolio of properties across South Africa, and part of its sustainability strategy.

The photovoltaic (PV) solar farm, comprising 1,084 panels, will produce around 271kWp, or about 30% of the electricity required by the shopping centre – the maximum possible with its roof size.

Templeton said “By taking strain off the power grid, we’re doing our bit to prevent load shedding too.”

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