Eskom has indicated that future load shedding will target residential and not industrial customers in a bid to make outages shorter and more efficient and not damage the country’s reputation, the utility has said. 

The state-owned entity has applied to the energy regulator Nersa for exemptions to the national standard – NRS 048-9 – that applies to load shedding, local media report.

Eskom has requested that it drops the protocol for declaring countrywide power emergencies arguing that it’s not necessary when dealing with such limited shortages.

More reactive to demand peaks

It argued that, especially in winter when the demand peaks between 17:00 and 21:00, shortages may be limited to very short period during the evening peak.

Eskom says the response time for industrial load reduction may be up to two hours, as opposed to ten to 30 minutes for load shedding.

Eskom is currently required to give its industrial clients reasonable notice that a power emergency may develop. That may result in the client losing a whole shift as it adapts its processes in order to reduce demand during the affected period.

If the utility can drop the municipal load and limit the supply interruption to the period absolutely necessary, domestic load shedding will be a more efficient solution, Eskom claims.

Industrial customers will only be subjected to load shedding as a last resort.

Municipal load shedding

Eskom further stated that compliance to the standard by municipal power distributors is problematic.They are supposed to react within 15 minutes after being notified by Eskom that an emergency has been declared, but fail to do so.

Eskom asked to incorporate municipal load shedding schedules into its own system to enable it to reduce municipal demand from its control centre when necessary.

The national standard is currently under review but that process may take more than a year to finalise, the Nersa sub-committee heard.

Several stakeholders, including Eskom’s big industrial clients, are represented on the review panel.

These stakeholders have insisted that Eskom has to be compelled to comply to some code of practice for load shedding and emergencies, to prevent what they call “load shedding by stealth” where there is no accountability for the decisions Eskom takes.

If granted, the exemption will apply until the review is finalised.

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