Melanie Veness: PCB CEO
I just recently gave members some feedback on the analysis of the data from the load shedding mitigation trial that we ran at the end of May. The trial was successful in that we managed to meet the demand requirements for Stage 2 load shedding, but we had to undertake some quite detailed analysis of the data, to ensure that the capacity given on the day was sustainable for ongoing load shedding. There were several elements that had to be considered.
Firstly, we had to factor in that Eskom declared load shedding on the day of the trial from 6 am and determine what effect this had on the results. Then, we had to consider that factories run shifts and that, due to the need to not run some production lines in order to meet the 15% voluntary reduction being requested, load reduction may have started earlier than 9 am (for many, shifts start at 6 am). To take a single reading at 9 am would not have been reasonable for comparative purposes. This necessitated having to download historical data from the meters of large manufacturers, so that we could determine average usual draw on a Friday and compare the usage patterns. And lastly, some large users were wonderful in that they gave significant amounts of power on the day, and we have to question whether this would be sustainable on an ongoing basis without compensation.
So what is the proposed way forward for us? I have met with Msunduzi Municpality electricity officials, who I must say have been incredible partners in this trial, having been supportive in every way and having downloaded and analysed all the technical data, despite not having the staff resources to do so. We went through the comparative results for various large users, which I am busy distributing to them. The results show that the vast majority of big industry came to the party, but some did not vary their draw, and so I am writing to each CEO/MD to give feedback and to establish 2 things: from those who gave capacity: whether the capacity given on the day is sustainable for the full period of load shedding, when it is called for in the future and from those who didn’t participate: whether we can count on them in the future.
Once we have received a response, we plan to run a final trial to prove that we can give the capacity and that it is sustainable on an ongoing basis.
Other progress worth mentioning, is that I was contacted by a consultant representing the National Department of Energy, who heard about our initiative and wanted to know more. After explaining what we had done and were doing, he said that his company had been tasked with establishing the viability of a demand response programme that involves voluntary contribution of non-essential load, with the possibility of compensation. I have declared our non-binding interest in becoming load share providers and look forward to receiving further feedback from them.
It is important to thank Eskom for being willing to accommodate us, for their part in monitoring and evaluating the trial, Msunduzi Municipality for their most valued partnership and the media for their continued support of this initiative. Most of all, I want to thank each and every one of my members who participated in trial and that added to our success. It just goes to show that when we rally around a common goal, we can achieve great things.