Johannesburg power utility City Power is promising to reconfigure its distribution network to exclude essential services as well as many businesses from load shedding as part of a seemingly ambitious plan to reduce the impact of Eskom’s supply deficit on residents.
City Power further promises to reduce the number of hours residents are in the dark by implementing a new schedule that will limit the period without electricity to two hours at a time (plus 30 minutes for the switchover) and a total of no more than 12 hours per day up to Stage 8 load shedding.
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This comes against statements that allude to excessive load shedding in the City of Gold compared to the amount required by Eskom.
Most South Africans currently experience 12 hours of load shedding per day when Eskom institutes Stage 6, which typically includes one or two slots of four hours each. Stage 8, which has so far never been instituted but is a strong possibility during the coming winter months, typically means a total of 16 hours per day without electricity.
Relief ‘from early June’
Member of the mayoral committee for environment and infrastructure services Jack Sekwaila announced that the relief will be introduced gradually from early June and is aimed at “saving the much-needed jobs and ensuring businesses remain invested within the city”.
Sekwaila expects the new schedule to be fully implemented by mid-June.
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This follows the retraction of a statement City Power issued on 18 May about the same matter.
In the statement it was mentioned that with the current schedule, City Power has at times reduced the load by as much as double the required amount.
The latest statement does not mention this explicitly, save for City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava’s assurance that: “We will be able to ensure an equitable distribution of the load shedding amount on customers and also ensure that we provide Eskom only with the exact amount of load required in each load shedding cycle.”
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This poses the question of how long and to what extent residents of Johannesburg have been subjected to excessive load shedding, compared to the reduction required by Eskom.
It also comes as high levels of load shedding have become the norm rather than the exception and the distributor seems to increasingly consider fine-tuning the way it implements the rolling blackouts to limit the devastating impact on households and businesses.
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Shining example (since dimmed)
A similar move by Rural Maintenance, a company contracted by the Mafube municipality in the Free State to manage electricity distribution in the area, recently led to a dispute that is currently before energy regulator Nersa.
Rural Maintenance took over control of load shedding in Mafube from Eskom on a trial basis in January. It fine-tuned the schedule considering the different needs of businesses and households. This helped large businesses to keep up production.
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It started to eliminate load shedding at times – this when solar energy acquired locally from an independent power producer at a cheaper rate than Eskom’s wholesale price exceeded the amount by which Eskom required it to reduce the load in the town of Frankfort.
But Eskom objected to this and took back control of the implementation of rolling blackouts.
Frankfort residents are now back to square one without any load shedding mitigation and energy from the solar farm being dumped during load shedding.
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Eskom in the dark …
Eskom told Moneyweb when City Power issued its first statement, and shortly thereafter retracted it on 18 May, that it was unaware of City Power’s plans.
According to the latest statement however: “City Power is finalising plans and consultations with Eskom to ensure a smooth transition and the full implementation of the new load shedding schedule by early to mid-June, which will see City Power assume complete responsibility for operating all of its substations during load shedding.”
Apparently, City Power technicians and engineers have been working hard for the past few months, conducting simulations and looking for ways to reduce the burden of load shedding on the city’s customers, infrastructure and resources.
CEO Mashava added: “With the higher stages of load shedding which are becoming our lived reality now, the lives of our customers are heavily disrupted. The new schedule will ensure that our customers no longer endure many hours of load shedding, with others shed for 4hrs in one go.
This schedule will reduce the frequency of customers being shed and in addition, blocks will not get shed at the same time for the same stage in consecutive days.
“In simple terms, our customers will be on for longer than it is now, especially in lower stages,” according to Mashava.
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What to expect
She said the design of the new load shedding schedule achieves the following:
- Eliminates the four-hour duration in all stages and maintains two hours (plus 30 minutes) up to Stage 8.
- Across four- or five-day Stage 1 or 2 load shedding, a customer may be shed only once per day.
- After a block is restored, there is a two-hour reprieve before the next scheduled time.
- A block is scheduled in a zig-zag fashion, alternating between lower and higher stages in the 24-hour period. This reduces frequency in comparison to the current load shedding schedule.
- The maximum duration the block can be switched off in 24 hours is 12 hours or six times in higher stages such as Stage 8.
- The algorithm is designed to ensure fairness to all blocks, based on 16 blocks, two hours per time slot in 24 hours, and 31 days.
This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and was republished with permission.
Read the original article here.