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Tuesday Jul 21, 2015

Big brother now controls Joburg properties' electricity

Joburg residents who are using "too much" electricity will now have their power disconnected remotely by City Power.

Load limiting, as the new system is called, has started in other areas with further rollout expected to kick in for the first time this week in other areas.

It affects about 92 000 households who have smart meters.

Residents will experience repetitive disconnection for 30 seconds over five minutes until they have reduced their consumption to the required levels.

If they fail to do so, they will be disconnected remotely via smart meters.

"So if your electricity is disconnecting for 30 seconds, don't panic, simply comply by immediately switching off heavy electricity-consumption appliances.

"When every household reduces consumption to required levels during periods of constrained supply, it will spare the affected areas from load shedding as pressure on the grid will be lessened when the entire neighbourhood collectively reduces consumption during peak hours to the required threshold," said City Power managing director Sicelo Xulu.

By the end of next week, City Power plans to have uploaded an additional 30 000 smart meters with load-limiting capabilities.

"We are using the power of technology to avert the implementation of the early stages of load shedding," he said.

City Power successfully piloted the system in Aspen Hills, south of Joburg.

The smart meters curtail usage for an average household from 42 amps to 21 amps. This will allow affected households to still run light, power-consuming appliances such as lights, TVs and alarm systems, but energy-intensive appliances such as geysers, stoves and pool pumps cannot be operated.

If they are left on, power to the entire household will be remotely switched off until the energy supply has normalised.

Xulu said load limiting would slash average household consumption by half, thus reducing pressure on the grid and ensuring security of supply.

"In the first two weeks, household usage will be limited to 21 amps between 7pm and 10pm during peak hours when the grid is generally under severe constraint. After this period, load limiting will run concurrently with the loadshedding schedule which will be published on the City Power website," he said.

Residents are warned that there might be planned outages during the roll-out phase, however the utility said the duration of these disconnections would be kept to a minimum.

"We are pleased to be embarking on this exciting leg in our network roll-out and we are confident the residents of Joburg will reap immense benefits from the deployment of smart technology.

"We plead with the ratepayers to bear with us during this time, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. The rollout of load limiting is one of the ways in which City Power is helping the city to achieve its vision of being a world-class African city," said Xulu.

Each user is different and residents will have to test their appliances to see how much they use to stay within a daily limit. "If people use electricity correctly, they'll see a big reduction in their bills," said Xulu.

Residents who want to receive an SMS telling them to reduce consumption should phone the call centre with their meter numbers.

Time-of-use tariffs came into effect this month, which means people using power during peak time now pay premium rates, but little for offpeak hours. Residents who'd like to go on to this tariff must register to do so.

City Power is also using the geyser ripple control system, which has been implemented in most houses across the city and is being extended to sectionaltitle buildings. Through this system, it can switch geysers off remotely when electricity is constrained.

The Star




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