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City Power: Load limiting to keep city lights on


The City of Johannesburg is to introduce a new and innovative system to mitigate the impact of load shedding and help keep the lights on.

The project, known as “load limiting”, will from the beginning of next month be rolled out to thousands of Johannesburg households that have been equipped with smart meters.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau at a media conference at Aspen Hills Nature Estate, south of Johannesburg, where the system was tested. City Power, the City’s electricity utility, has already installed smart meters in more than 65 000 households throughout Johannesburg over the past 18 months. A further 150 000 households are expected to be equipped with the smart meters by the end of October this year.

Explaining how the “load limiting” system would work, Executive Mayor Tau said residents in households where smart meters had been installed would receive an SMS on their smartphones advising them to reduce power consumption at a particular time. “It will be up to you to switch off those electrical appliances that you don’t need. If you ignore the signal, your power will trip for 30 seconds and will switch on again. If you continue ignoring the warning signal, the power will switch off completely,” he said.

The power will remain switched off until the load shedding period in the particular has lapsed. It is estimated that the City could save us much as 775MW if all the 335 000 households with smart meters were to apply the system. The Mayor appealed to residents to make the project successful by voluntarily reducing power consumption.

“As long as communities are participants in this programme, we can begin to keep the lights on for many hours. It is a fairly simple system but it all depends on the cooperation of the residents,” he said.

For now, the system will be applied in residential properties with smart meters. The City has already initiated talks with business leaders with a view to extending the system to the business environment.

Mayor Tau said the City was also looking at other initiatives to mitigate load shedding and generate power. These included using the ripple control relay system, efficient use of geysers and having generators on standby. He said the City had used the ripple control relay system successfully to reduce the pressure on the power grid.

The Mayor also used the opportunity to urge “those residents of Soweto and other parts of the City who feel that they are entitled not to pay their rates and taxes to meet their obligations to make the City run smoothly”. He said much as there were rights in a democracy, these rights came with responsibilities.