Cape Town – Dinner by candlelight conversations often get heated when a guest boasts that they are exempt from load shedding.
Possible reasons for this included living near President Jacob Zuma or other powerful leaders.
But this week, the City of Cape Town shed light on this heavy load for burdened consumers.
“As far as exclusions from load shedding are concerned, the city is guided by what is referred to as regulation NRS048-9,” said mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg.
“This is the national standard for load shedding and deals with the appropriate treatment of critical loads and the essential load requirements of various customers.”
What areas get exempt from load shedding
NRS048-9 identifies the following criteria for the implementation of load shedding: the safety of people, the environment, the potential damage to plants associated with a critical national product (for example wastewater treatment works) and technical constraints on executing load shedding and curtailment or restoration.
“Based on these criteria and where possible, the city does exclude major hospitals, major central business districts and areas where there are major crowds gathered for specific events,” he said.
“Areas that have been previously excluded are the Table Mountain cable car, as well as parts of the central business districts across the city and major hospitals.
“Some residents and businesses may be excluded from load shedding if their properties share a dedicated circuit with the abovementioned exclusions.”
When the lights won’t come back on
While some residents are spared load shedding, others have complained that their lights don’t come back on when they’re scheduled to.
Eskom is often blamed for irregularities in load shedding, but it is in fact the municipalities’ responsibility to manage their own schedules.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Fin24 that some municipalities used automated technology to manage the process, while others use manual switches that need turning on and off.
“If the technician is stuck in traffic and needs to get to the switchboard, perhaps there might be a delay,” he said, using a hypothetical example.
It’s because of nuisance tripping – Sonnenberg
“Nuisance tripping” has resulted in certain areas experiencing longer load shedding cuts than they should, according to Sonnenberg.
The City of Cape Town implements load shedding according to the schedule on its website when it is instructed to do so by Eskom, said Sonnenberg.
“The restoration of power sometimes results in what is described as ‘nuisance tripping’, which often goes unreported due to the assumption that the outage is due to load shedding,” he told Fin24.
“This could also lead to some customers being under the impression that they are being disproportionately affected.”
What to do when power remains off
“Consumers can mitigate against this by switching off appliances (including geysers, air conditioners and pool pumps) prior to load shedding and perhaps leaving on only a light or two [on] to indicate the return of the supply.
“Switching off and unplugging at the wall also reduces the risk of damaged appliances.
“If a customer’s electricity supply remains off for longer than the period specified on the schedule, they should please send an SMS to the city’s technical operations centre on 31220. The city will then send a team out as soon as possible to restore supply.”
“The city regrets the inconvenience caused, but would like to assure residents that all areas are treated fairly whether they are supplied by the city or by Eskom.”