OUR VIEWPOINT: Did Msunduzi’s plan work?

2015-05-25 15:40
Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

Pietermaritzburg City Hall. (File)

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Celebrations, after businesses in the Msunduzi Municipality successfully embarked on voluntary load shedding on Friday, are on hold until the data is analysed by Eskom. If it is determined that the voluntary load shedding by business is enough to feed back into the grid then Eskom may not have to load shed, benefitting business and ordinary residents.

Pietermaritzburg’s big businesses Willowton Oil, Hulamin, Pressure Die Castings and all the major supermarkets have had to invest in generators costing about R700 000 to ensure a smooth operation during load shedding. Many millions of rands a week are lost as a result of the erratic electricity supply. Small businesses, especially those run from homes, cannot afford large generators.

The plan may ease the burden on households that now rely on online schedules or load shedding apps to assist with daily planning. However, as load shedding worsens, municipalities have come in for criticism for not sticking to the schedules.

On Friday, city businesses had pledged to reduce power consumption by up to 15% between 9 am and 12 noon.

To put this into perspective, Eskom’s Level 2 load shedding status requires a municipality to shed 10% of its normal electricity consumption.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business and the Msunduzi Municipality.

Eskom will have finished its analysis of the data by tomorrow. There were some factors that had to be taken into consideration regarding Friday’s test.

Because it was colder than estimated, fewer people would have used their air conditioners on the day. Eskom may ask for a few more tests to determine an average amount of power saving. And it is not clear how or if this will affect load shedding over weekends and during the early mornings and evenings when fewer businesses operate but household consumption is high.

If the project is deemed a statistical success then it is foreseeable that the project could be rolled out to every municipality in the province. It could mean an end to load shedding or a relaxing of the schedules.

We all wait with bated breath

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