Johannesburg gears up for ‘load limiting’

Johannesburg - Load shedding, or rolling power cuts, have become a regular occurrence in Johannesburg, but a different kind of power saving initiative dubbed ‘load limiting’ is set to affect the city in coming months.

Johannesburg electricity utility City Power announced on Tuesday that plans are afoot to use smart meters to pilot ‘load limiting’, a concept aimed at reducing the potential for load shedding.

City Power says it can use smart meters to remotely monitor household energy usage and inform users via SMS when the threat of load shedding is imminent.

City Power users who then minimise their power usage will not be affected by power cuts during load limiting, a spokesperson for the power utility told Fin24. Meanwhile, those who don’t reduce their power usage will be affected by power cuts, said the spokesperson.

To date, there are only 65 000 smart meters in Johannesburg but plans are in place to roll out the devices to 150 000 households by October, according to City Power.

Users who comply with the system won’t be affected by power cuts during load limiting, an official explained to Fin24.

"You won't be load shed (if you reduce power usage) then because the amount of electricity that you'll be using would be within the required standards,” Hloni Motloung, speaking on behalf of City Power managing director Sicelo Xulu, told Fin24.

"So, you won't be affected at all.

"It will only affect those that are using more,” he said.

Load limiting is firstly planned to happen when Eskom issues a notification to municipalities to load shed owing to constrained supply. City Power adds that load limiting is also expected to be scheduled in advance to reduce consumption and pressure on the grid.

“Households will be informed of the daily consumption rate and consumers are expected to adhere to this threshold. In the event of non-compliance, households that don’t comply will be remotely disconnected, thus sparing conforming customers from load shedding,” reads a statement from City Power.

City Power is advising customers to reduce electricity usage during the times of 07h00 - 10h00 and 18h00 - 20h00 during weekdays. Appliances such as geysers, stoves, fuel pumps should be turned off during this time to avoid disconnection, notes City Power.

‘Ripple control’

Apart from introducing ‘load limiting’, Johannesburg City Power officials say they are also implementing a concept called ‘ripple control’.

Ripple Control enables the power utility to remotely switch off geysers during periods of high electricity demand.

“Through the implementation of Ripple Control, City Power is able to control approximately 110MW of electricity, the rollout of solar water geysers around Johannesburg have generated an additional saving of 60MW is possible power and the Kelvin power station has contributed an additional 150MW of capacity,” said Xulu in a statement.

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