Mysterious load-shedding change in Joburg explained

Last week, City Power announced a sudden move to a different load-shedding schedule, comprising two-hour outage periods instead of the four-hour blocks it previously used.

City Power said this change was implemented to bring its load-shedding schedule for Johannesburg in alignment with Eskom’s, which primarily implements two-hour periodic power outages.

However, prior to this change, City Power rejected Eskom’s assertion that two-hour blocks would be a better option, stating that this would place a significant strain on its system and possibly lead to more substations exploding.

“By its nature, electricity infrastructure is not meant to be switched on and off,” City Power said at the time.

“Our ageing infrastructure won’t stand two-hour frequent switching. Already, we have a challenge of substations blowing up due to on and off of load shedding.”

However, it has now acquiesced and implemented a two-hour load-shedding schedule, which begs the question – what changed in the past week?

“Not our favourite option”

In response to questions from MyBroadband, City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said both Eskom and City Power do everything in their power to ensure customers do not experience load-shedding.

“Having said that, it is correct that City Power has migrated from a four-hour load-shedding schedule to a two-hour one, which is indeed not our favourite and not suitable for our type and age of electricity network,” Mangena said.

“We have always taken the view that a two-hour schedule is not suitable for the type of network we have and that at times the duration of the schedule makes it difficult to restore power after the two hours of load-shedding.”

This could mean that there will be more delays when restoring power or more outages due to system component failures.

Mangena noted that the necessity to implement load-shedding results from challenges at Eskom, not at City Power, and this was one of the main reasons for the change to two-hour blocks despite the increased risk to the system.

Why the schedule changed

“When City Power implements load-shedding, it is a direct result of these challenges at Eskom rather than City Power-created challenges,” Mangena explained.

“It is for this reason that when Eskom – due to its power generation and supply challenges – requested City Power to change to a two-hour schedule and move from a four-hour one, we had to change and align with them.”

This was done to avoid placing additional pressure on its own network and that of Eskom, as not changing the schedule would ultimately risk electricity distribution and network stability across the country.

“Our refusal to align with Eskom‘s two-hour schedule would further jeopardise City Power’s electricity network and put our ability to supply power to our customers at an increased risk,” Mangena said.

“While we regard the two-hour schedule as undesirable for our type of business, we are at the same time aware that refusal to adjust to a two-hour schedule will not benefit the residents of Johannesburg and Eskom and can only increase the power supply challenges that Eskom ultimately experiences.”

City Power’s revised load-shedding schedule is available in the power utility’s website.

Now read: Suspended Eskom managers back at work in top positions

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Mysterious load-shedding change in Joburg explained