How new load shedding codes prevent errors and protect the national grid beyond Stage 8

The National Rationalisation Specifications (NRS) association, responsible for deciding codes of practice for municipalities’ response to load shedding, is close to completing an update that will cover load shedding beyond Stage 8. These codes regulate how municipalities must respond to instructions from Eskom’s National Control Centre or System Operator, when it advises how much load shedding is necessary to address frequency and supply imbalances. Currently with directives provided only until Stage 8, a unique feature of these codes is that they emphasize the principle of equity prescribed in the Electricity Regulation Act. The NRS Code is critical to aid in preventing errors and protect the national grid, making it valuable for both consumers and suppliers.

The updated codes are crucial, particularly with winter around the corner and a prospect of higher stages of load shedding. Vally Padaychee, the chair of NRS, said that “the System Operator and municipal electricity distributors would have to use their own respective operating procedures to protect the national grid” in the absence of the updated codes. He added that there was a lot of consultation done and that the new code of practice provides an excellent tool to prevent errors that could lead to the national grid collapsing.

Load shedding is implemented to stabilize the grid frequency and balance demand with supply. The amount of load shedding needed increases as more consumers lose access to the national electricity grid, making it more demanding for power-reserve technologies and fuel reserves. The rigor of electricity supply codes continues to increase, requiring more technical and specialized interventions to regulate and ensure equity and fairness in the distribution of electricity. Such National codes provide consumers with planned and fair schedules, but also indirectly protect the public against the potential impact of human error.

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The NRS is an association involving all entities in the electricity sector, including municipalities, Eskom, Nersa, and the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS). Once adopted by Nersa, the new code will have legal status and be released to the public with all relevant details outlining how to share the limited power supply to avoid total grid collapse.

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