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Joburg City Power resorts to load reduction as usage peaks due to drop in temperatures

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Johnathan Paoli

THE City of Johannesburg’s power utility – City Power, has announced the beginning of load reduction in certain areas that it said suffer from “exceedingly high” electricity usage caused by the cold weather.

In a statement on Monday, the utility’s spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the load reduction was expected to start on Monday morning, with over 80 areas to be affected and grouped into six blocks, with reduction expected not to exceed 2.5 hours per block.

Mangena said the decision follows failed extensive efforts to encourage customers to use electricity wisely and efficiently in recent weeks.

“Despite warnings about the constrained electricity network in the city, residents have not reduced their electricity consumption, and energy demand has continued to rise,” he said.

Mangena said City Power recorded an 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 2024.

He said in some instances, the load reached 42MW, constituting an 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 network infrastructure if load reduction is not urgently implemented,” the spokesperson said.

Mangena said the utility was currently embarking on additional measures to assist with the load reduction, including the installation of ripple relays.

A ripple receiver is part of a load management system used to control the electricity supply to a geyser during peak hours.

“Geysers are among the biggest electricity guzzlers, accounting for up to 50% of monthly household energy costs. These ripple relay receivers at different households are connected to at least 69 of our substations, and we can monitor customers’ consumption load remotely,” he said.

In addition, the spokesperson also laid the blame on illegal connections and said they were contributing to an already severely strained electricity network.

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

He confirmed that the power utility has continued to intensify the removal of illegal connections and revenue collection operations across the metro which seeks to not only alleviate pressure on the system, but to recover the billions owed and send a strong message to non-paying customers.

Mangena said load reduction is expected to be implemented during peak times from 6 to 10am and 4 to 10pm in high-density areas and suburbs, and load Limiting, through smart metres, will also be implemented in July to further assist customers in saving energy without switching them off completely.

He confirmed the list of areas to be affected by the load reduction would be made available on the utility’s website.

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