As the winter season approaches, electricity usage is bound to surge as we begin using heaters, geysers and stoves more often in the cold weather. To help mitigate the demand of electricity during peak times – increasing pressure on an already fragile grid – the City of Joburg and City Power have announced that they are going to introduce a variable billing system to encourage residents to use power during off-peak periods.

As of 1st July, Joburgers will be charged according to peak and off-peak periods which will help save costs and relieve pressure off the already strained national grid. That means you won’t pay the same tariffs for using electricity say during 1pm than you would if you were using it at 7pm.

Peak times are between 7am and 10am and 6pm and 9pm where demand is at its highest in most households around the country.

“City Power’s introduction of a time-based tariff system is informed by its commitment to provide services to its hard-pressed consumers by incentivising and rewarding them for changing their usage patterns, while at the same time ensuring security of supply by lessening the pressure on the grid,” said City Power managing director Sicelo Xulu.

“Load shedding is a fact of life that we have to contend with for the foreseeable future and we need to explore any conceivable solutions to ensure that we keep the lights on. The high cost of servicing the demand for power during peak periods is ultimately passed on to the consumer, so any reduction during the peak period from 5pm to 9pm typically is of mutual benefit to the consumer, City Power and Eskom generation,” Xulu said.

To give residents a bit of flexibility with the new charging method, City Power will give you the option to choose which appliances you won’t be needing to use during peak hours. “If they would rather use them during off-peak times, they will also benefit by reducing the daily cost of operating the appliances,” the city says.

This new tariff charging method has already been given the go ahead by the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). Current off peak flat rates will be reduced and the City of Jobrurg says it will also remotely and automatically switch off geysers during peak periods to reduce consumption instead of expecting consumers to do this manually each day.

The main question is how will the city determine which geysers in which areas need to be turned off and for how long.

“An extensive drive will be undertaken to educate consumers about the new system before it is implemented on 1st July,” added Xulu. “However, City Power has to complete the rollout of smart meters around Johannesburg before it can implement the new system.”

The city gave no indication of when this might be completed, although it has said previously that some 50 000 smart metres were installed last year – although several thousand had to be recalled as they were faulty.

[Source – South African Government News Agency, image – CC BY-SA 3.0]