Joburg’s City Power to implement load reduction in high-usage areas

Johannesburg’s City Power will implement load reduction in high-usage areas to prevent equipment overload. Measures include cutting electricity to geysers during peak demand, applying load limiting with smart meters, and reducing load in high-consumption areas. These actions respond to a 65% increase in evening peak load and aim to protect the grid.

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By Hanno Labuschagne

Johannesburg’s City Power will start implementing load reduction in areas with “concerning” electricity usage levels that could overload equipment.

The power utility has also threatened to switch off geysers during peak demand periods in areas with substations equipped with ripple relay systems and plans to implement load limiting in areas with smart meters, even outside load-shedding slots.

City Power explained that electricity consumption in the metro had reached critical levels, requiring stringent measures to protect the grid from total collapse.

“These measures include intensifying the implementation of ripple relay systems to cut electricity to geysers in homes where the systems are under threat, reducing load at substations with higher consumption and those under threat, and intensifying cut-off operations against illegal connections,” City Power said.

The power utility explained that it has recorded an “enormous” 65% increase in the average evening peak load in some areas. The 25MW average peak in summer jumped to 33MW in May 2024.

“In some instances, the load reaches 42MW, constituting a 110% increase in consumption levels in comparison with the warmer season,” City Power said.

Off-peak load had also increased from about 20MW to 30MW, a jump of 50%.

“With temperatures expected to drop even more between June and July, the consumption levels could have dire consequences on our network infrastructure if load reduction is not urgently implemented,” City Power said.

“Our network is now at critical levels due to continuous demand, which is higher than the electricity equipment can withstand.”

City Power said despite warnings to residents about the constrained electricity network, usage continued to rise.

To avoid overloading of its equipment, the utility will begin implementing load reduction from Monday, 10 June 2024.

80 areas impacted

The targeted power cuts will be in effect from 06:00 to 10:00 and 16:00 to 22:00 in 80 high-density areas and suburbs where the load exceeds the designated maximum capacity of City Power’s transformers, transmission lines, or cables.

The affected areas are being grouped into six blocks, each of which will be without power for two and a half hours each day.

Below are the areas which will be affected by load reduction:

  • Alexandra
  • Freedom Park
  • Klipfontein
  • Kliptown
  • Lawley
  • Mayibuy
  • Matholesville
  • Mountain View
  • Naturena
  • Pennyville Precast
  • Pimville Zone 9
  • Princess
  • Slovo
  • Thembelihle
  • Tshepisong
  • Vlakfontein

The blocks under which each area falls and the load reduction schedule are detailed in this document, available on the City Power website.

In addition to load reduction in overloaded areas, City Power will also be implementing load limiting in suburbs with smart meters “to further assist customers in saving energy without switching them off completely”.

This could prove to be a controversial move, as load limiting was previously only applied during load-shedding.

That was likely why people were willing to join the programme in the first place, as load limiting was an alternative to load-shedding up to stage 4.

With this unprecedented move, City Power plans to reduce how much power these households can use, even outside load-shedding hours.

Switching off geysers remotely

City Power has also threatened to switch off geysers in households fitted with ripple relay receivers.

A ripple receiver is part of a load management system used to control the electricity supply to the geyser during peak hours.

“These ripple relay receivers at different households are connected to at least 69 of our substations, and we can monitor customers’ consumption load remotely,” City Power said.

The power utility said that geysers were among the biggest electricity guzzlers, accounting for up to 50% of monthly household energy costs.

It warned it would switch off households with ripple relay receivers if they reached “high” consumption, without providing further detail.

Below are the 69 substations which form part of the ripple relay programme:

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This article was originally published by MyBroadband and has been republished with permission.