In an innovative leap towards stabilizing power supply, the City of Johannesburg will implement a load-shedding exclusion plan for key stakeholders and essential services starting in June. This development is part of the city’s concerted strategy to safeguard livelihoods, invigorate local economic activity, and ensure the city remains an attractive hub for investment.
This update arrives following last week’s debacle, where City Power, a City of Joburg entity, was compelled to withdraw a revised load-shedding schedule it had released to the public.
Disrupted Power, Disrupted Lives
Previously, the power distribution entity had indicated a load-shedding schedule that would leave its consumers without power for two-hour intervals within a 24-hour period during load-shedding stages one through seven.
However, on Thursday, Jack Sekwaila, MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services, shed light on a new direction. A fresh plan has been unveiled, guaranteeing an exemption from load-shedding for specific consumers starting from the dawn of June.
He emphasized the city’s obligation to:
- Attract and sustain investment
- Preserve the livelihoods of its residents
- Steady the job market
However, these objectives have been substantially hindered by the incessant power cuts that have put a dampener on economic activities, forcing several businesses to either shut down or relocate to provinces with a more stable power supply.
From Crisis to Opportunity
Most notably, small businesses still reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic found themselves facing closure due to load-shedding. Sekwaila expressed optimism that the new measures would fortify the local economy against the debilitating effects of load-shedding.
Large power consumers and major business entities have largely been insulated from load-shedding via load curtailment agreements. The focus now, according to Sekwaila, is to gradually extend this protection to other businesses, particularly those in industrial sectors and large-scale employers.
He attributed this possibility to several planned improvements, including:
- A network reconfiguration
- The implementation of advanced energy techniques
The implementation of these plans will gradually encompass essential services not currently safeguarded by the city’s exemptions, a move triggered by a governmental request.
Navigating Network Complexities
However, Sekwaila noted that it may not be feasible to implement these exemptions all at once due to the intricate nature of the existing network. Meanwhile, City Power is striving towards a new load-shedding schedule aimed at reducing the four-hour outage duration, currently prevalent from stage four, to just two hours up to stage eight.
In support of this commitment, City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava added, “City Power has earmarked 16 blocks that can independently bear the load-shedding requirements. We are making strides in remotely controlling our substations, particularly those in Reuven, Hursthill, Alexandra, and Inner City areas during load-shedding.”
He concluded by acknowledging the disruption high stages of load-shedding pose to customers, reaffirming the company’s resolve to improve the situation by automating other substations in the SDC and mitigating the impact of power disruptions on Johannesburg’s citizens.