The City of Joburg and its power utility City Power announced a pilot project on Tuesday aimed at saving its customers, especially businesses and industry, from the devastating effect of load shedding.
The scheme, named Load Limiting, is aimed at households and will only be implemented when Eskom signals the need the reduce the electricity demand.
According to a statement electricity users with smart meters will be sent an SMS and a message will flash on the interface of these meters when they need to reduce their electricity consumption.
Based on the average household consumption, excluding non-essential items, they will be informed of the limit on their consumption. Since they will be able to read how much they consume, they have the opportunity to switch off devices in order to achieve the required reduction by switching off geysers, stoves and other energy-intensive appliances.
If they comply, there will be no power cuts. If they don’t the power will be cut for 30 seconds. This will be repeated five times. If the consumption is still above the required limit, the power will be cut for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the whole process will repeat itself.
Currently 65 000 households are equipped with the smart meters necessary for this solution. This is expected to be increased to 150 000 by October.
The 65 000 households already have the potential of yielding 153 MW of demand reduction. This is significant, since Eskom requires City Power to reduce its demand by up to 150 MW during Stage 1 load shedding, 250 MW during Stage 2 and 600 MW during Stage 3.
By just implementing Load Limiting at the current 65 000 households, City Power will be able to avoid Stage 1 load shedding for the whole of Johannesburg.
Joburg mayor Parks Tau said: “The City of Johannesburg is South Africa’s financial and business hub that contributes substantially to the country’s GDP. The economic development of Johannesburg hinges closely to the uninterrupted supply of energy to power businesses and households. Through this intervention, we will ensure that we not only keep the lights on for many households, but we help to stimulate the development of Johannesburg and contribute to making the City the preferred investment destination.”
City Power Managing Director, Sicelo Xulu says an extensive educational drive will be undertaken to educate consumers about the new system before it is fully implemented.
City Power has also implemented other strategies to limit consumption during periods of constraint in an effort to avert load shedding. This includes ripple control which provides the utility with the ability to remotely switch off energy-guzzling geysers.
Xulu says: “Through the implementation of Ripple Control, City Power is able to control approximately 110 MW of electricity, the rollout of solar water geysers around Johannesburg has generated an additional saving of 60 MW of power and the Kelvin power station has contributed an additional 150 MW of capacity.