Load shedding making a slow comeback?



Published Jun 10, 2024


On Monday City Power announced that it has started implementing load reduction in parts of Johannesburg to prevent the grid from total collapse, as the power utility is facing extreme energy consumption from residents during the cold winter weather.

City Power’s implementations include intensifying ripple relay systems to cut geyser consumption and cut-off operations against illegal connections. Geysers are among the biggest energy consumers, because they absorb 50% of monthly household electricity costs.

“Part of our measures to lighten the load on the grid through load reduction includes installation of ripple relays. These ripple relay receivers at different households are connected to at least 69 of our substations, and we can monitor customers’ consumption load remotely. City Power will remotely switch off the customer’s geyser once they reach high consumption-levels,” said City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena.

Load reduction is set to occur for only two hours during peak times, from 6am to 10am and 4pm to 10pm. Over 80 areas are to experience load reduction and they will be grouped into six blocks such as Braamfontein, Alexandra, Mondeor, Klipfontein, Lawley, and Naturena.

Mangena explained the emergence of load reduction was to encourage residents to use electricity sparingly, despite the low temperatures and expected cold fronts in July. However, customers failed to reduce their energy use.

Mangena highlighted the seasonal changes that affect energy consumption during summer when City Power consumed less megawatts, compared to a megawatt increase in autumn and especially winter.

“City Power has recorded an enormous increase in the average evening peak load in some areas, which went up by 65% from 25MW during the summer months to 33MW between April and May. The load reaches 42MW constituting a 110% increase in consumption-levels in comparison with the warmer season. With temperatures expected to drop even more between June and July, the consumption-levels could have dire consequences on our infrastructure if load reduction is not urgently implemented,” Mangena warned.

Load reduction will not only lessen a burden on energy infrastructure, but Mangena said it will recover billions in municipal debt and send a strong message to defaulting customers who refuse to pay for municipal services.

“From our observations, those who are illegally connected or tampered with meters, are among the highest consumers of electricity, because they do not experience the financial consequences of keeping high and irresponsible usage,” said Mangena.

Agreeing with Mangena, City of Joburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda told media outlets that energy infrastructure is exposed to illegal connections, hence, load reduction.

“The infrastructure of the City of Joburg has been exposed to intense pressure, one of the contributing factors is illegal connections in densely populated areas. The theft of electricity is at fault and any subsequent damage to it affects all our residents,” the mayor said.

Mangena added that enforcing load reduction was City Power’s last resort to protect the City’s energy infrastructure from overloading, which could lead to equipment failure, catching fire, and prolonged widespread outages.

“Although load shedding is currently suspended until further notice, should it return load reduction will continue parallel to load shedding,” said Mangena.

The Star