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Thursday Feb 05, 2015

Joburg plans to save residents from Eskom

Sewage and water pipe turbines, smart meters and new solar technology will save Joburgers from Eskom's load shedding.

City Power is going "all out" with projects aimed at getting off the Eskom load-shedding schedule by June.

City Power managing director Sicelo Xulu told The Star this morning that city mayor Parks Tau was putting the utility under severe pressure to drastically mitigate load shedding to save the city's economy.

"There are myriad projects under way to mitigate load shedding. We are planning on putting them all into one basket and, depending on cost effectiveness, we should be able to completely be off the load shedding by May or June," said Xulu.

While Xulu was outlining his utility's plans, Eskom was announcing another round of load shedding. This followed a day of off-on-off power yesterday, when City Power load shed to help Eskom, but Eskom ultimately load shed anyway to get through the evening peak power demand period.

Xulu said immediate plans were to use electricity from the Kelvin power station, which sells power to City Power that is offered to Eskom when the national utility is in trouble, and the savings effected through the geyser ripple-control units already installed in Joburg residential properties.

Xulu said Kelvin produced 150MW, and the ripple control could save between 60MW and 90MW.

"Therefore, if for example Eskom asks us to shed 235MW, we can contribute these amounts and only load shed a small balance, if we have to, which will not negatively impact people and businesses," he said.

Over and above this, tests have been done on using smart meters to save electricity.

The city has installed 50 000 smart meters in households so far, which can now be used to automatically cut customers' consumption remotely, by the percentage Eskom needs, without customers even realising it is being done. The households remain switched on but their power usage is capped so they have some choice over which appliances they use.

Xulu said City Power had conducted tests in a pilot project and found this smart meter power-reduction system worked.

The mayor and City Power have also been in consultation with the SA Property Owners' Association and Business Unity SA about reducing load.

"We will be conducting communication and awareness campaigns in the next few weeks," said Xulu.

Another major step towards mitigating load shedding is co-operating with big companies that have their own generators and those that produce their own electricity from by-products.

"We are talking to these businesses. If their generators can kick in when Eskom needs additional power, we could save 200MW or more, through their contributions," he said.

Other projects, involving the Johannesburg Roads Agency and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), are on the cards. These include: Retrofitting street lights with energy-saving LEDs. Putting LED lights in all new JDA projects. Retrofitting RDP houses with solar panels. Looking at new technology where a solar panel acts as a complete roof.

City Power is also working with Johannesburg Water to install in-pipe turbines in both water and sewage pipes to generate power. And there are plans to look at generating power in the water supply system by installing gravity flow turbines in water towers.


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