Highway Mail: Be prepared to weather load shedding


LOAD SHEDDING is not only a huge inconvenience, but it is also costly to both businesses and households and although there is a break from blackouts this week, the future is unclear.

The Highway Mail asked a few local businesses about the effects of load shedding and how they are coping.

Manager of New Germany’s Black Forest Restaurant, Janet Visser said the rolling power outages last week had caused many customers worries. “We had many calls asking if we were online and from people wanting to book because they couldn’t cook at home,” she said. Fortune favours the prepared, and due to many years of load shedding, this business had invested in the means to keep the lights on.

“We have had to revert to the old scouting motto of “Be Prepared!” said Visser adding that due to not being able to predict when or even if the load shedding might take place, they had to ensure the generator was always ready for even a long period without power. “We are fortunate that our pay-points and card machines can run on the power these generators provide, but we have been getting used to this situation for a long time now.”

Fortunately, some businesses can rely on their back-up generators to prevent problems in their workflow. According to the staff at the Suffert Street mortuary in Pinetown, load shedding has caused no problems. A manager who identified herself as Mrs Thabele said the facility had generators which work well. “The generators kick in straight away – we have never had any problems here due to load shedding,” said Thabele.

Some businesses need to minimise stress, and The Village, retirement home in Pinetown has managed, with the help of back-up generators, to create an environment where residents don’t have to deal with things like load shedding.

Brad Reinhardt, one of the directors of the retail section of Bluff Meat Supply based at the Pinetown branch said the load shedding was hugely problematic last week.

To cope with this problem, the stores rely on generators to maintain the cold-chain essential for the meat industry and the retail environment.

He said using the app to predict when the lights would go out did help a little in planning for power outages. “I am very pleased this seems to be finished for a little while, but we are preparing in case it continues in the future.”

However, Reinhardt said that no amount of planning could mitigate larger issues caused by rolling blackouts beyond the control of any business.

“Our business is very power intensive and when there is no electricity it affects us in two ways,” he said.

In a statement issued by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), the CEO of SACCI, Alan Mukoki said: “The recent stretches of load shedding are having a devastating negative impact on business. It is clear that the longer these rolling blackouts continue, the longer it is going to take for the economy to recover. We are concerned about potential job losses and business closures arising out of what appears to be an intractable problem.”

“Business calls on government to take bold and decisive steps to solve the problem. The high prospects of job losses, and damage that this is likely to cause to economic growth cannot be overstated. This crisis is draining enthusiasm and likely to lead to lower levels of investor confidence.”

The Small Business Institute calls on government to redouble efforts to resolve the rolling power blackouts which are having a crippling effect on the small business segment in SA.

SBI’s executive director, Bernard Swanepoel, said “smaller firms, which are expected to create 90 per cent of SA’s jobs in 2030, are more vulnerable than big business peers as they are not in a position of spending on alternative sources of energy during periods of load shedding.”

Minimise the load shedding impact on safety and assets

LOAD SHEDDING can affect your security systems and appliances. Generators should be chained to a solid object or housed within a lockable metal cage.

Mandy Barrett, of insurance brokerage and risk advisors, Aon South Africa offers more advice to minimise the impact on your lifestyle, safety and assets.

Check that the battery back-up on your alarm, electric fencing, irrigation and other programmable appliances is working and that you have sufficient back-up time to see you through an outage. If the battery runs down completely, you will need to re-programme the time slots when the power comes back on.

Keep a spare key with you for your electric gate motor and know how to override your electric gate to gain access to your property if necessary.

Be on alert for opportunistic crime – don’t leave your car running in the driveway while you’re occupied with the gate.

Power surges spell disaster for sensitive equipment like computers/laptops, TVs, fridges, sound systems and so on. Leave appliances unplugged when not in use and have good quality surge protection at all plug points.

Better still, get a qualified electrician to install surge protection onto your main distribution board. Some insurance policies have surge protection specified as a requirement of cover, so check your policy wording.

Empty your fridge/freezer of perishables if you are going away on holiday – there is nothing worse than coming home to a rotten mess due to a power surge or tripped switch.

Switch your electric geyser off if no-one will be home during the holidays, but if you have a solar geyser or heat pump, check with your qualified installer first before switching anything off – some systems have built-in ‘holiday protection’ and ‘anti-boil functions’ and in some instances switching your system off can cause overheating and damage to your system. · Have standby/emergency lighting on hand for any outages and make sure it’s fully charged for when you need it.

Load shedding effect on households

THE longer load shedding hours means there is unnecessary food wastage as many families stock up for the month.

Already under pressure with the increase in electricity, petrol and diesel prices, South Africans are really struggling to keep afloat.

Product specialist, FNB Wealth and Investments, Ester Ochse, gives tips to ease the load shedding burden.

· Prepare a weekly food/meal planner. Budget for your weekly food purchases accordingly and try not to buy food items that require a freezer as with load shedding, items which require cold storage could go to waste.

· Shop on a weekly basis for groceries.

· Travel plans need to be also be made around load shedding to avoid being stuck in traffic for extended periods. Allocate enough time for travel to ensure that you don’t miss vital appointments or be late to drop off and pick up children from school and extra murals.

· Consider minimising your reliance on electricity by looking at affordable alternatives such as buying a gas stove instead of resorting to buying costly takeouts.

by Highway Mail – https://highwaymail.co.za/315831/be-prepared-to-weather-load-shedding/