City Power to exclude key businesses from loadshedding

The City of Johannesburg has announced changes in its approach to loadshedding which will start rolling out gradually from June 2023. 

This comes a week after one of its entities, City Power, was forced to retract a statement announcing a revised loadshedding schedule for customers and some businesses supplied by it.

In a statement on Thursday. the power utility said it would exclude key customers, essential services, and some businesses from rotational power cuts.

The metro’s Environment and Infrastructure Services MMC Jack Sekwaila said this is in an effort to protect livelihoods, attract investments, and boost the city’s economy where network configurations allow.

Sekwaila said: “The City has the responsibility to attract investments, retain those already operating within Joburg, and secure the jobs for our resident.”

“This hasn’t been possible with the relentless loadshedding that has heavily impacted the economic activity within the City, leading to some businesses closing down while others emigrated to other provinces where reliable electricity supply is guaranteed.”

Sekwaila said most small businesses were forced to close due to the impact of loadshedding while still recovering from Covid–19.

He added that most large power users and key business customers are already excluded from loadshedding through the load curtailment agreements.

Other businesses, especially those in industrial areas that employ many people, will be gradually excluded and premised on the reconfiguration of the network and other processes.

Sekwaila said the new arrangement would add many other essential services to the loadshedding exclusion.

“The City is already exempting most health and water services following the request by the government last year. City Power is also working towards implementing a new loadshedding schedule that will see the current four-hour schedule happening from stage 4 reduced to two-hour slots up until stage 8. City Power technicians and engineers have been working hard for the past few months, among others conducting simulations, looking for ways to reduce the burden of load-shedding on our customers, our infrastructure and the resources.”

City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava said: “To achieve standardisation, City Power identified 16 blocks that can shed the required load per block.

“It is important to mention that the substations serving the Reuven, Hursthill, Alexandra, and Inner City areas are remotely controlled by the City Power Control Room during load-shedding.”

She further explained that a plan is in place for the substations that have a manual system.

She said: “The substations in all other areas are still manually operated, and measures are underway, with budgets committed to ensure that those substations in other SDC are operated remotely.”

Mashava said the new schedule would reduce the frequency with which people are being load-shed, and blocks will not get shed at the same time for the same stage on consecutive days.

“In simple terms, our customers will be on for longer than it is now, especially in lower stages”

She said City Power is finalising plans and consultations with Eskom to ensure a smooth transition and full implementation of the new loadshedding schedule by early to mid-June.

It will see City Power assume complete responsibility for operating all its substations during loadshedding.

“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”

Joburg said the design of the new loadshedding schedule achieves the following:

  • Eliminates the 4-hour duration in all stages and maintains 2 hours (plus 30 minutes) up to stage 8.
  • In a 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 24 hours. This reduces frequency in comparison to the current load-shedding schedule.
  • The maximum duration the block can be switched off per day is 12 hours — or six times — in higher stages like stage 8.
  • Given that there are 16 blocks, 2 hours per time slot in 24 hours and 31 days, the algorithm is designed like a square to ensure fairness to all blocks. “This explains 50% chance of enjoying less frequent and 50% of worst case depending on the day.”

Sekwaila said:”It is for this reason that we needed to exempt the industrial loads to avoid the worst-case scenarios”

City Power is set to start with network reconfiguration in the coming months, enabling Johannesburg to exclude most embedded essential services within its network.

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