Shedding A load of money

2008-01-26 00:00

Municipalities are now counting the cost of load shedding.

They are concerned about the reduction in revenue from electricity bills that load shedding has caused and are anxious about the effects that power rationing could have on their projections for the year.

Msunduzi strategic executive manager for infrastructure, service and facilities, Phil Mashoko, yesterday told Weekend Witness that loss of income will translate into less money for maintenance.

He said staff were busy trying to quantify the amount that the municipality has lost, but estimates are that, in the two weeks since January 6, they have lost R500 000.

Mashoko said that while they have received no official word from Eskom yet in terms of rationing, his department has begun to explore how they would implement it in their area.

“We are looking at it from different angles. We have already spoken to our major customers to try and unlock their excess capacity. For example, if they are supplied with 5 MVA, we are seeing if we can get 2 MVA from them.”

Mashoko said that they are looking at tariffs and may structure them into blocks of usage, with the higher blocks being charged punitively to discourage users from consuming too much power.

“So if you go above a certain amount of units you will pay more.”

He said that the peak could also be flattened by reducing municipal circuit breakers (MCBs), which trip if a facility draws too much current at once.

He said that smaller MCBs would mean that the use of appliances would be restricted. “This may also be helpful in terms of those customers who don’t care what they pay.”

Meanwhile, a retired Eskom employee says there is an abundance of skills waiting in the wings, if Eskom only swallowed its pride and approached retired staff and those who took retrenchment packages, to assist.

“Most of us are fit and available to work. Eskom has all our contact details available from the pension fund,” said the Pietermaritzburg pensioner.

He also said the public should not fear or resist electricity rationing.

He has been conserving energy for the past eight years, he said, adding that a reasonable amount of electricity used in a two-member household is 500 to 550 kilowatt hours per month.

This can be achieved by reducing the size of the MCB to a maximum of 30 amps, replacing all lightbulbs and security lights with compact fluorescent bulbs, putting digital timer switches on geysers and planning when other appliances will be used.

He said dishwashers should only be switched on after 8 pm, after the evening peak demand period. Geysers should be programmed for just two hours a day between midnight and 6 am and their thermostats should be set no higher than 55°C.

“In our climate, tumble driers should not be used at all. Consumers should stagger the use of appliances. It’s a case of reorganising your lifestyle.”

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