Friday, January 18, 2008

How Fair is Load Shedding?

Two years ago an Electrical Engineering consultant was talking to my wife in the bookshop, and told her that Eskom had no contingency plans, but they had been warned about their lack of capacity and the effects of their non-maintenance policies. Now that we are experiencing this chaos first hand, the new web site www.poweroutages.co.za has helped to make it clear just how bad the planning is, and how unfair the power cuts really are. Of course it goes without saying that these timetables are purely on paper, and the actual situation is a lot worse.
I selected a few suburbs at random from a map of Johannesburg. The results are curious, but clearly unfair. Perhaps suburbs are graded according to usage patterns, but it looks pretty arbitrary to me.
Stage 1: (red) Eskom is overloaded by 1500 MW. This is the most likely type of power cut
Stage 2: Eskom is overloaded by 3000 MW. More locations will have no electricity
Stage 3: (brown) Eskom is overloaded by 4500 MW. Many areas are without power
Click on any graph for a full size view

Paulshof:
PaulshofLonehill:
LoneHillFerndale:
FerndaleCresta:
CrestaZola:
ZolaPimville:
PimvilleMondeor:
MondeorJeppe:
JeppeParkview:
ParkviewMelrose:
MelroseBramley:
BramleyLinbro:
LinbroGlen Austin A.H:
Glen AustinAlexandria:
AlexandriaLinksfield:
LinksfieldSandringham:
Sandringham

Click to read the cartoon

Perhaps we should change the name to "Power Outrages", or just call it what it is: a failure of power.

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