What is Load Shedding?
You probably don’t know what load shedding is if you live in a first world country. Words have failed me in the past but no longer do I want to keep silent. In South Africa load shedding is the ‘turn taking of electricity’ as our country no longer makes enough for everyone due to incompetence ad mismanagement.
As Waka Waka put is “Imagine this: You’ve paid your $100 energy bill, but for some reason you don’t have access to electricity all the time. You call up the electricity company and they tell you; ‘‘Oh yes, that’s right… Too many people are making use of the electricity so we had to cut some of you off including you. But don’t worry, it will be back up in a few hours and just so you know… we will do it again next week.” This is load shedding.”
A Succinct History :
In the 1990’s the South African government was informed by Eskom (our state owned power utility) that we needed to upgrade our production capacity; not only was the warning ignored but through incompetence it was destroyed. We have been putting up with an unreliable and unpredictable power system for 15 years at the hands of incompetent leaders while bureaucracy muddles around. It has been publicly stated by Jan Oberholser, the chief operations officer of Eskom (Para-state electricity supplier) that it is due to “a lack of maintenance and neglect over the preceding years” (I will refrain from expletives and insults but you are welcome to add them in as you read wherever you please in a peppered fashion to spice up my complaint.)
In 2007 the first of the blackouts or load shedding rolled out. The country was divided up into sections and each section would get a turn of not having electricity. Sounds fun (said sarcastically.) Each turn was 2 hours long (sometimes 2 ½ hours or 4 hours but I do know that some places had up to 10 hours with no electricity while some prestigious areas have not had load shedding at all.) But let’s just say that mostly it is 2 hours. Another ‘fun’ fact: Depending on whether it is level 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 we get to ‘not have electricity’ once or twice or more a day.
At first I had a Pollyanna approach: “let’s make the best of this situation, ….it’s so romantic with all the candles, …..who wants to be watching Netflix or playing computer games or be on social media all the time, ….it’s only 2 hours … or 4 hours… or 6 hours” Hmmmm. Well I am sure you know it affects the economy. Businesses suffer when machines and equipment have to stop in the middle of a process while medical equipment and cold storage run their own risks. This started before Covid 19 but you can imagine how challenging it is for medical care and vaccines that need to be in cold storage. My husband has his own business and works from home. First we got a generator; later we changed to solar power for the office but Derek works with businesses all over the world, in USA, Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Australia and so he has to fit in with the time zones which are not always during our day and our solar power runs out.
Barry Bredenkamp of South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) Writes in his opinion piece:
“Every electricity user can help to decrease the load on Eskom’s power stations. Simply switch off equipment and lights which are not needed. Don’t leave printers, TVs, etc, on unless you’re using them.
Switch lights off when exiting a room; open windows to cool a room rather than switching an air conditioner or fan on. Make sure that windows and doors seal properly to keep the heat in during winter so that heaters can be more effective. Don’t heat or cool rooms which are unoccupied.”Barry Bredenkamp
Like that is actually going to help us top up the deficit that South Africa is experiencing. I wonder if he was paid by the government to say that? Anyway we should all be using electricity carefully for environmental reasons; having power outages should not be the norm!! Since 2007 we have lost 10% of our power generating capacity. Now 15 years later we have old coal power stations limping along as best they can as they were damaged by the use of low quality coal sanctioned by Jacob Zuma. We recently built two new coal powered stations but they have no air scrubbers (pollution controls) so they belch pollution at illegal limits. They moved a whole village as people were dying but they have no plans to fix it before 2030 and their solution is to change the law by raising the legal limits to make it legal. This poisons our (yours and mine) atmosphere, which is the air that everybody shares in common, worldwide. For more information find the article Medupi’s killer fumes: The story of a power station’s missing air scrubbers.
My patience has run out after 15 years and it has been replaced by anger at the incompetence and selfish attitudes of the people responsible for this ongoing fiasco. I would be happy to share electricity with others anywhere in the world if it was for a good cause; if we were saving the planet or giving electricity to people who have never had electricity in their villages but I am no longer happy to put with gross negligence. Other than having installed solar powered energy for the office and solar powered hot water geezers I am not sure what I can do but I am definitely happy to let you know that I am in grumble mode.
Twinkle twinkle rolling black outs Now I wonder how much longer Dimming lights and economy Like a dying coal in its hearth Twinkle twinkle rolling black outs.
Take heart, life goes on. Cheers.