Several Pennsylvania companies are participating in a trade mission to South Africa this week aimed at addressing that country's power shortage. Sewickley-based BPL Global is one of those companies. BPL has developed software utility companies can use to manage the power on their grids. For example, utilities can shut off or reduce service at certain times of the day to conserve energy and prevent brownouts. BPL also makes products that can "scramble" electricity to customers who tap into a power grid illegally.
BPL Chairman Sam Zacharias says power management software can help South Africa on a temporary basis as the country tries to catch up with demand. Zacharias says the problems in South Africa are not unique; worldwide, he says demand for electricity is growing by about 14 percent annually, while generation is growing only about 5 percent.