Country watches as Maritzburg businesses lighten Eskom’s load

2015-05-22 09:27

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TODAY, between 9 am and noon, Pietermaritzburg will run a one-of-a-kind trial to end load shedding in the city.

The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), which is working with Msunduzi Municipality on the project, is confident that it will work.

Yesterday, e-mails from city businesses pledging to make electricity savings in the three-hour period, some of up to 15% of their power usage, were still “coming in thick and fast”, said PCB CEO Melanie Veness.

On Tuesday, a day after the project was announced, the PCB had already received hundreds of pledges.

“We are as ready as can be. If all goes according to plan, we should meet the target. Businesses from the tiniest shop to the biggest firms have been making pledges,” said Veness.

Eskom is also viewing the project with interest, in the hope that it may work in other towns and cities.

Tomorrow, after the trial period, it will measure how much power to the city decreased, compared with average consumption levels over the same time, on a Friday.

“I have received a lot of comments from people in other places. They are saying if we can do it here, why can’t they do it there?

“This is not just for Pietermaritzburg,” said Veness.

The project is based on the fact that businesses account for 70% of electricity demand in the city.

Businesses, “and we are hoping all government departments in the city”, have been urged to e-mail their proposed electricity savings for today’s trial period to PCB@pcb.org.za.

The aim of the e-mail is so that in future, when Eskom asks the municipality to implement load shedding, the PCB will use the data derived from the e-mails to send out a bulk SMS for businesses to once more implement their electricity savings during the period of the scheduled load shedding.

In this way, load shedding can be avoided.

Businesses have been urged to appoint a “curtailment champion”, somebody whom the PCB can SMS prior to a scheduled load shedding event in future, so that the electricity savings at their businesses can be implemented for the required period. All the city’s major factories have committed to reduce their power consumption by up to 15% during today’s test

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