Who misses load shedding? If there’s one silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis and the lockdown on movement that’s come with it, it’s that the previous national bugbear, load-shedding, has taken a holiday. Sure, we’ve been stuck inside – but we’ve not had to fumble around for candles in the dark or stare into the ether wistfully wishing for a cup of tea.
As the lockdown restrictions begin to abate though, Eskom says we should expect the spectre of rolling blackouts to return. There’s less of a chance of it though, according to new Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, saying that the lockdown has enabled the embattled power producer to do more maintenance on its aging power stations.
“We believe that with these interventions that the likelihood of load shedding for the coming winter has been significantly reduced from our previous forecast,” De Ruyter said.
While the chances of load shedding are lessened, they’re not quite at zero – and it’s a risk that companies aren’t willing to take. Telecommunications giant Vodacom has announced its plans to spend up to 1 billion Rand in its current financial year to make sure that they’re able to cope with load shedding.
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub told TechCentral in an interview this week that most of that money would be spent on generators and battery back-up systems that would enable the company to weather extended rolling blackouts.
February’s blackouts saw Vodacom’s network “severely impacted” according to Joosub, with a 2-3% level of unavailability. Given that people turn to their phones when the power goes out, unavailability is a something they’d rather avoid.
“In a telco network, that’s a disaster. It gives rise to poor customer experience, and customers don’t always appreciate that cellphone networks work on power. There is increased utilisation of mobile when the power goes down. But that can only last as long as the power lasts.”
Load Shedding to Return
Eskom has previously said that load-shedding is likely to remain part of the national consciousness for at least the next 15 months, so it makes sense to plan to mitigate its impact.
“We do expect that when lockdown is lifted, that the demand will pick up drastically,” Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said last month. “We are getting ready and all our plans. I do not believe what the risk of load shedding has left us. It’s still going to take us, I believe, at least until July next year in order for us to say that we’ve done proper maintenance to say that the risk of load shedding has disappeared.”
In the short term, with Winter fast approaching, load shedding means not just being in the dark, but being cold too. At Sunburst Electric, we’re able to help you prepare for the return of load shedding for a lot less than R1bn!
We can help you make the switch to solar, install a home generator or battery-backup system, advise on other solutions to reduce your reliance on the national grid. We can also help prepare your home for power surges to keep your expensive electronics safe when the power’s unstable.
Call us today on 087 55 11 000 to see how we can help you prepare for load shedding’s return.