City Power has plan for ‘load limiting’
But the project needs R400m from council
Project needs R400m from council
Joburg’s energy utility has a plan to keep the city’s lights on during the first two blackout stages, but will need R400m from the council to get it going.
City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava told Sowetan that the city planned to roll out new smart meters, which would enable the utility to practice “load limiting”, where power to a household or business would be reduced instead of it being totally blacked out.
Joburg procures 90% of its electricity from Eskom, with city-owned Kelvin power station providing 180MW. City Power provides power for all of Johannesburg except Soweto, Orange Farm, Ivory Park and some parts of Sandton.
“We realised we will need a lot of time and money to build new power stations and we don’t have either. So, we had to access innovative technology at our disposal.”
Load limiting means that a household or business would choose how to use the reduced power at its disposal. It would mean that a household or business would make the choice on where to direct the electricity at its disposal instead of having none at all.
“It means that a household can decide whether to switch off the pool or the geyser. We believe that this can give us up to 320MW back. It means we will not be affected by stages 1 and 2 of load shedding.”
Mashava said that under the new system, traffic and street lights would remain on even during Eskom blackouts.
Included in the R400m budget is money allocated to replace existing meters, upgrading back-end technology systems to enable the utility to communicate directly with the customer, installation of fibre and systems that would allow for clients who are able to generate their energy to sell it back to the city without endangering the balance of the grid.
Mashava said they have already piloted 60,000 smart meters and would be piloting others from different suppliers and the results are impressive.
“The result of the piloting show that we would be able to do this [launch the new energy management system] in the current financial year [ending in June],” she said.
She conceded that most of the power returned to the grid would come from wealthier households and businesses who generally consumed more power than those in poorer neighbourhoods.
Mashava said the plans had already been presented to newly elected mayor Thapelo Amad and would be presented to MMC for environment and infrastructure services Jack Sekwaila this week. He was appointed last week.
Though a City Power project, the benefits of it being rolled out sooner rather than later would be enjoyed by other city entities such as the Fresh Produce Market and others providing direct services to the public.
Mashava said one of the reasons City Power would be able to roll out the plan quickly was that it would piggyback on existing technology, such as used by Joburg Water, which uses a remotely accessed computerised system to track pipeline systems.
Independent power producer company, Lehadima’s CEO Solomon Mathoma gave a thumbs up to the initiative and expected it to be beneficial to customers, the IPP sector and for influencing the culture of mixed energy use.
“In Europe you find that households generally have an energy mix. They use gas to cook, solar for the lights and fridges. They are advanced on how they use the power. We need that in SA. We need people to be of the mix available to them and be able to integrate these,” Mathoma said.
City Power CEO Tshifhularo Mashava. /CITY POWER