The City of Johannesburg has announced a sea change in its approach to load-shedding. According to MyBroadband, it will start rolling out gradually from June 2023, aiming to protect livelihoods and boost the city’s economy. As part of this overhaul, Johannesburg’s load-shedding schedule has changed to exclude key customers, essential services, and some businesses from rotational power cuts, offering relief to those affected by the energy crisis.
The metro’s Environment and Infrastructure Services MMC, Jack Sekwaila, emphasised the importance of attracting and retaining investments while securing jobs for residents. He highlighted the detrimental impact of relentless load-shedding on economic activity within the city, leading to business closures and migration to provinces with more reliable electricity supply.
Already grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses bore the brunt of load-shedding’s impact. However, Sekwaila expressed confidence that the new plans would help sustain economic activity amid the challenging circumstances.
While large power users and key business customers are already exempt from load-shedding through load curtailment agreements, the metro plans to gradually extend exclusions to other businesses, particularly in industrial areas with significant employment. This process will depend on network reconfiguration and other necessary procedures.
The City of Johannesburg also highlighted that essential services, including health and water, have already been exempted from load-shedding following a government request. However, complete exclusion cannot be implemented simultaneously due to the embedded nature of the network.
City Power, the municipal power utility, is implementing a new load-shedding schedule to alleviate the burden on customers and infrastructure. The four-hour schedule during stage 4 load-shedding will be reduced to two-hour slots until stage 8, offering customers more extended periods without power interruptions.
Tshifularo Mashava, CEO of City Power, emphasised the importance of standardisation and announced the identification of 16 blocks capable of shedding the required load per block. While some substations are remotely controlled during load-shedding, efforts are underway to enable remote operation of substations in other areas.
The new schedule aims to reduce the frequency of load-shedding, ensuring that blocks are not shed simultaneously for the same stage on consecutive days. As a result, customers can expect more prolonged periods of uninterrupted power, particularly during lower stages. City Power is working closely with Eskom, the national power utility, to ensure a smooth transition and full implementation of the new schedule by early to mid-June.
By assuming complete responsibility for operating its substations during load-shedding, City Power aims to distribute the power cuts equitably and provide Eskom with the required load. The new load-shedding schedule will eliminate the four-hour duration across all stages and maintain two-hour slots, with a reprieve period after a block is restored.
The metro highlighted that a block is scheduled in a zig-zag fashion, alternating between lower and higher stages within 24 hours. This scheduling reduces the frequency compared to the current load-shedding schedule. As a result, the maximum duration of load-shedding for a block per day is 12 hours or six times during higher stages, such as stage 8.
With 16 blocks, two-hour time slots in 24 hours, and 31 days, the algorithm aims to provide fairness to all blocks, ensuring a 50% chance of experiencing less frequent power cuts and a 50% chance of the worst-case scenario, depending on the day. In addition, industrial loads are exempt to avoid the worst-case scenarios, given their impact on essential services.
City Power plans to commence network reconfiguration in the coming months to enable Johannesburg to exclude most embedded essential services within its network, further enhancing the resilience of the city’s power supply.
The City of Johannesburg’s efforts to revamp its load-shedding approach and mitigate its impact on the economy reflect a commitment to creating a more stable and reliable energy environment for businesses and residents alike.
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