The slickest, easiest way to currently get the answer to when will you be load shed on a particular day is by downloading the quite frankly well written local load shedding schedule app, EskomSePush. (We will all agree to look past the juvenile joke name, okay?)
Written by Dan Wells and Herman Maritz a handful of years ago, EskomSePush is an extremely user friendly tool that does little more than ask you to download and install the app on your phone, click on the plus button to bring up the location search, and then select the location that you are interested in. The resulting screen then gives you a nice concise view of what your load shedding schedule looks like (across any of Eskom’s seemingly limitless stages) for any particular upcoming day.
The app is easy to read, sends warning push notifications when needed, and is simple enough that most people should get the hang of it. For my part, it works like a charm and its load shedding reporting has yet to fail me, meaning that our rolling blackouts by another name still hasn’t caught me with my pants around my ankles and no torch in sight.
Aerial photos of Gordon’s Bay always fascinates me, primarily because inevitably they show this massive amount of water, all neatly held by the mountains directly over our little town’s head!
When travelling along the N2 away from Cape Town one has to cross the Hottentots-Holland Mountains via Sir Lowry’s Pass. As one goes over the top and starts to descend into the Grabouw valley on the other side, one of the first sights that one sees is the Steenbras Dam.
The Steenbras Dam is an earth-fill type dam located in the Hottentots-Holland mountains, above Gordons Bay, near Cape Town in South Africa. For much of the first half of the twentieth century it was the main reservoir (storage dam) for Cape Town (its catchment area is the mountainous areas of Grabouw and Elgin) but is now only one of many dams that supply the city. It was built in 1921 and covers an area of 380ha.
The dam is on the Steenbras River, which, in common with most rivers in the western Cape, has a low sediment load and delivers water of very high quality. The river and dam are named after the steenbras, a fish endemic to South Africa.
In recent years the dam has become more visible from the road as many of the pine trees that grew along the mountain slopes have been removed as they have been declared aliens. The dam in fact is split into two sections, the upper and lower dams. One crosses a bridge over the dams on the way to Grabouw.
Although in the past you could actually access the dam and walk through the pine forests surrounding it, not to mention try your hand at trout fishing in the dam itself, sadly for security reasons and due to vandalism and neglect, it has been closed to public access for a couple of years now.
Closer to Grabouw above the Steenbras dam is the Palmiet Pumped Storage Scheme. It was built in 1983 and is part of a water transfer scheme. To generate power water is released from the upper Rockview Dam to the two reversible pump turbines located 60 metres below ground level. After flowing through the turbines the water is discharged into the lower Kogelberg dam.
When Cape Town’s water reserves become low water can be pumped from the Palmiet River via the Rockview Dam to the Steenbras Dam to supplement the Cape Town water supply.
The turbines at Palmiet have two functions. In the first instance they are used as conventional hydro turbines in the generating of power. When not generating to meet the morning and evening peaks on the system, they are used to regulate the voltage.
The second use of the turbines is to reverse their direction to pump the water from the Kogelberg Dam back to the Rocklands dam. In the pump mode the generator becomes a huge motor which absorbs electricity from the network in order to drive the turbine in the pump direction. South Africa, has two pumped storage schemes, both operated in conjunction with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry as part of water transfer schemes.
Related Link: Wikipedia
If you live in South Africa then the reality is that load shedding is here to stay for quite a bit longer – particularly as the energy demand starts spiking when the really cold winter weather starts kicking in! So with Eskom unable to meet our electricity demands and saddled with the responsibility of keeping the national grid up and running, we may as well get comfortable and start knowing our load shedding schedules and status.
This invaluable tool is a proper lifesaver when it comes to planning around and dealing with load shedding. Essentially it constantly updates itself with all the latest load shedding schedule databases from around the country, reacts in real time to sudden load shedding status changes, and pretty much lets you know whenever a break in your power supply is going to be happening.
By allowing you to save areas of interest like ‘Home’, ‘Work’ or say even ‘Gym’, you know exactly when and where you can expect power breaks to be, and with handy push notifications sent whenever necessary, you are pretty much guaranteed not to get a nasty surprise when the lights go out just as you pulled closed the office toilet door in anticipation for some much needed alone time.
It’s a clever, visually intuitive app that gives you all the information you need, and if you are a South African living in South Africa – well then you would be silly not to currently have it installed on your phone!
(I’ve had mine installed pretty much straight after it was released at the end of March! Haven’t looked back since…)
Related Link: GridWatch on Google Play Store
Needless to say, we’re in that horrible situation of dreaded load shedding once again, which means it is pretty handy to be able to quickly locate the Eskom load shedding schedule once those Princes of Darkness announce that the lights are indeed going to go out.
Essentially there are two cases here – either you get your electricity directly from Eskom, or you receive via your municipality.
First things first, access Eskom’s dedicated load shedding site at http://loadshedding.eskom.co.za/. If you are a direct Eskom customer, you can search for your suburb/area and get the results directly from the source. If your search turns up no results, it is then suggested that you are perhaps a municipal customer and get a link to http://www.eskom.co.za/Pages/loadsheddingmunic.aspx.
To be honest, I’m only really interested in the City of Cape Town load shedding schedule, and that site then gives you a handy area color-coded map and corresponding table, all of which then tells you exactly when the power is going to be off.
Useful in other words, unless of course your power is already off. In that case schedule look-ups be damned!
[UPDATE] Eye Witness News (EWN) also has a pretty nifty load shedding tool available on their site.
So the 1st of the month has rolled buy and yet another round of Eskom’s outrageous price hikes has kicked in, and I thought I would give you a nice little example of how this big percentage price increase actually kicks you in the balls.
On the 26 June 2011, I bought 186 units for R150. For some or other reason, we burned through those pretty quickly and I needed to buy again, so on the 03 July 2011, I paid in another R200… and received a measly 163 units!
That’s right, for a whole R50 more I received 23 units less!
And of course they decide to do this in the middle of winter, a time when it is common knowledge that a household’s energy consumption is higher than normal!
It’s shameful really.
Sigh, and I really don’t have any other lamps I can replace to those stupid looking energy saver ones…
(Oh, and on that note I’ve found a new website to purchase my electricity through, following PayCity’s disastrous attempts at trying to implement the 3D Secure technology for my credit card. I got tired of phoning up the bank every time the thing failed and have now moved on to PowerTime which so far is treating me pretty well…)
In light of our current power crisis (pun intended), it would appear that the creators behind the original and still number one South African long-running comic strip, Madam and Eve, had long ago already (way back in 2000 to be exact) pegged the culprit behind our power woes. Previously lit areas beware; you are going to have a HELL of a hard time getting out of this pickle!
As always, click on the image to see it in its full glory!