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Clarens gets the all-clear to curtail energy use rather than cut power altogether

  • Thanks to smart meters and small-scale embedded generators, Clarens can now manage demand and through voluntary load curtailment.
  • Residents of Clarens will need to reduce their energy demand when requested to keep the power from being cut.
  • Residents have reportedly complied with the request allowing Eskom to hand over management of the load to a coordinator in the town.

The dream for many municipalities around South Africa is to shrug off the constant threat of loadshedding for citizens, but very few have been able to mitigate the effects of unending power cuts. This week, the small town of Clarens in the Free State joined that number through the introduction of load curtailment.

The concept of load curtailment has been bandied about for the last year. With load curtailment in place, operators can ask that customers reduce their power consumption to a certain threshold, should that threshold be exceeded the power can be cut.

In the case of Clarens, citizens will be asked to reduce their energy demands by between 10 and 20 percent during Stage 1 to 4 of loadshedding. This is made possible by the various smart city initiatives Clarens has implemented including the installation of smart meters.

“Load curtailment is not a new concept as many municipalities and large customers countrywide have long been managing their own demand during times of supply constraints. The concept of ‘group curtailment’ – where a community manages its own load curtailment – was however piloted in Clarens,” explains senior manager for retail at Eskom in the Free State, Bibi Bedir.

“Group curtailment requires the collaborative efforts of the entire community to reduce load when requested. Once a system emergency is declared, Eskom gives a nominated group coordinator two hours’ notice of load curtailment that should be sustain throughout loadshedding. The group coordinator directs the community who decides which equipment will be switched off to achieve the required demand reduction,” Bedir added.

According to a press release issued by Eskom on Tuesday, Clarens has installed a spread of small-scale embedded generators which assists in providing power to the town.

It should be noted however, that load curtailment requires the participation of residents as Gert Kruger, group coordinator for Clarens explains.

“For a town that depends on tourism, not being subjected to loadshedding is life changing. Although the success depends on the voluntary participation of residents and businesses, we have the community’s support as everyone benefits from cooperating,” Kruger said.

“Feedback from visitors, restaurants and accommodation establishments is very positive and without the noise of generators, tourists can enjoy Clarens’ natural beauty.”

Eskoms says that residents have reduced and managed their demand successfully and as such, it seems more than happy to implement load curtailment.

This is great news for the residents of Clarens and we suspect it won’t be the last municipality to test out load curtailment this year.

For the rest of us, Stage 1 and Stage 2 loadshedding is on the cards for the rest of the week and potentially into the weekend.

[Image – Tayla Kohler on Unsplash]

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