File picture: Karen Sandison/ANA

Cape Town – With Eskom warning on Friday evening that South Africans can plan for a weekend of load shedding, the City of Cape Town has advised residents how to reduce its impact by being energy-wise.

The stage 1 rotational power was high due to a shortage of capacity, which was caused by a combination of plants being down due to planned maintenance and a "higher than expected" number of units not working due to unplanned maintenance caused by technical faults.

"We are doing everything possible to move away from the reliance on Eskom alone for our energy needs. We are presently awaiting a court date for our case against Nersa (National Energy Regulator) and Eskom to fight for our right to buy cleaner energy directly from independent power producers. 

"We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate necessary developments with members of the public as timeously as possible. 

"We will continue to do everything possible to reduce the impact on Cape Town’s residents," councillor Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said on Friday.

Although a load shedding announcement is typically made with very short notice, simple interventions can mean the difference between keeping the lights on across the whole city and being shed as per the schedule.

The City said Capetonians can reduce electricity usage at home and at the office by doing the following:

– Switch off those appliances that you don’t need – this is the golden rule when it comes to saving electricity

– Delay switching on lights and appliances until after the peak periods (between 17:00 and 21:00) whenever possible

– Switch off your pool pump, geyser and other large electrical equipment, and never run both at the same time

– Adjust air conditioners to 23 degrees Celsius if you need to use them

Stages and reduction:

– Stage 1 load shedding, according to the NRS 048 documentation, asks for a load reduction of approximately 5%, which equates to load shedding of between 80MW and 100MW for the City

– Switching off one’s geyser should be sufficient for achieving this reduction, but to be on the safe side it would be best if other non-essential appliances such as pool pumps are also turned off. 

Given that many residents are at work when peak consumption times begin and are not able to switch off appliances at home when given short notice to do so, members of the public are encouraged to get into a habit of switching these items off before they leave for the day and to switch them back on before they go to bed.

Limberg said: "We want to remind residents that it is possible to avert load shedding in City supply areas for the initial load shedding stages. Our Steenbras pump storage scheme is being used to reduce the occurrence of load shedding in City supply areas where possible. 

"However, the facility is scheduled for maintenance between January and April. This proactive maintenance has been planned during the summer months when less electricity is used but, unfortunately, this will mean that we will not be able to rely on the plant to the extent that we have in the past.

"In spite of this, I am optimistic about our potential to succeed in averting a load-shedding scenario, especially given the fact that it is easier to use energy sparingly in the summer months and also because of the team spirit we have demonstrated in our water-saving efforts. 

"I believe it can be done. Cape Town has proven that, if we work as a team with each person pulling our weight, enormous savings can be made for the benefit of the greater good, not just for the normal functioning of our daily domestic lives but also for our economy. 

"Any stage of load shedding presents a knock to our economy and we must do everything within our power to prevent the need for its implementation. 

"We hope for the sake of the whole country that Eskom succeeds in its strategy to steer its way through the summer without succumbing to its particular challenges. However, the City has been preparing for all eventualities.

"I would like to assure residents that we are in the process of working with various directorates on business continuity plans to protect the normal functioning of critical operations during load-shedding. 

"We are also exploring all avenues for further opportunities for reduced energy consumption in our buildings, over and above the existing energy efficiency measures that have been implemented in our operations over the past few years.

Important tips:

– Communication: Ensure that your cellphone, laptop, tablet and radio are always fully charged when power is available. This will allow you to be able to communicate with friends and family during load-shedding

– Transport: Make sure that your vehicle always has fuel in the tank as most petrol stations are unable to pump fuel during power outages.

– Cash: Keep some cash on you as ATMs cannot operate without electricity

– Security and safety: Backup batteries for electrically operated gates, garage doors and security systems should be kept in a good working condition and be able to last through periods of load-shedding. 

Store temporary light sources such as battery-powered torches, gas lamps and candles in places where they will be easy to find in the dark

– Eating: If you do not have a gas stove, prepare meals before the power is scheduled to be switched off. Boil water in your kettle and keep it in thermos flasks for hot drinks. You can also use an insulating cover on teapots, pots and pans to keep drinks and meals warm

– Most medication requiring refrigeration can be kept in a closed fridge for several hours without spoiling but you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if in doubt.

Visit www.SavingElectricity.org.za for more tips to save electricity and follow load-shedding developments on www.capetown.gov.za/loadshedding