City to turn off home geysers

2008-05-08 00:00

Load shedding is gone for now, but what other tricks has Eskom got up its sleeve to make consumers use less electricity?

Pietermaritzburg consumers should prepare to have their geysers switched off by the municipality from a central point, and have their ampere usage slashed in the same way, when extra electricity capacity is required.

Big buildings, business and industry will be given targets to achieve and maintain, or face punitive charges, and new builders should forget about installing an electric geyser.

Phil Mashoko, strategic executive manager of infrastructure, services and facilities at Msunduzi, said yesterday these are some of the strategies they have come up with to try to reduce the city’s power consumption.

"We have no choice," said Mashoko.

He said a contract has been awarded to a company to install the remote switching technology on geysers. Mashoko said the project, funded by Eskom, will entail the contractor fitting each geyser with a ripple control switch to allow the municipality to switch off geysers by remote control at a central point. The implementation date has not yet been set.

According to eThekwini Metro, the devices to be used in KZN allow municipalities to also turn off air-conditioners and other appliances like pool pumps. "Personally I don’t like that option," admitted Mashoko.

He said the method of saving power he prefers is current limiting, which means the municipality could reduce the amount of electricity supplied to consumers when necessary. He said a bid notice has already been placed for service providers to come up with suggestions on how this could be done. This contract will include reading water and light meters remotely as well.

Mashoko said that if a household has a 60-amp capacity, this could be charged to 30 amps from a central point, if required, to limit the amount of electricity customers could use.

Another energy-saving option being examined by the municipality is the mandatory installation of solar-powered geysers in all new buildings. Mashoko said they are looking at reviewing the bylaws in this regard.

He warned that public buildings will be targeted to lead the way in terms of energy efficiency.

"So government buildings and council buildings will be among the first to be given targets to stick to." He said the municipality is busy working out targets for buildings, businesses and industry.

"The large consumers will be given energy targets to achieve and will be monitored to see how they maintain them."

Mashoko said an open meeting is to be held within two weeks to discuss these energy-saving methods. He said that in the meantime, if load shedding is required by Eskom, the municipality will revert to the timetable that was last used.

He said that at a meeting between Eskom and the top 10 municipalities it was agreed that they all need common targets for energy saving.

A list of questions sent to Eskom asking them to provide feedback on this meeting and for them to quantify savings was returned with the comment that "the meeting was positive" and that details would be released to the media at a later stage.

Mashoko said while Msunduzi achieved a definite reduction for the March period, this still has to be analysed to see how much of this was due to load shedding, and how much was caused by people conserving energy.

"I know for sure that some of the big consumers have displayed significant cuts in terms of their energy consumption …" he said.

But he warned that a saving of over 10% is needed, plus more to avoid future load shedding.

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