Loadshedding is back…

…and it makes blogging very difficult. My metaphorical coal silo has collapsed.

More tomorrow.

Blackouts likely as power stations close for repairs

I know, South Africa. We’re used to it now, aren’t we? Electricity shortages, load-shedding, blackouts.

Since the first issues reared their ugly rears back in 2008, it’s become almost second nature to us: now, even the briefest of power cuts is hollered from the rooftops as being a rolling blackout and another demonstration of just how badly our country is behind the rest of the world.
And now, this: the news that four power stations:

…which provide 10% of the country’s electricity, could be offline until the end of the year on safety fears [raising] further concerns about the chances of blackouts during the winter.

Only in South Africa, hey?

Except no. Because this is from a Sky News article about the UK. So let’s drop the exceptionalism and step away from the exceptionalism. Keep your hands where we can see them. etc etc

It’s not new, either. The UK has been warned about this for over a year now.

I’m well aware that two wrongs don’t make a right though, and I’m sure the 120 million odd individuals resident in the UK and SA would much rather have readily available electricity 24/7/365. But in a society where we are so anxious to draw attention to the negatives (and let’s be fair here, there are plenty of negatives to draw attention to), singling out SA as being the only country where the population has to contend with power shortages is plainly incorrect.

And yes, Eskom keep increasing our electricity prices, and that’s very, very annoying, but guess what’s happening elsewhere?

In the UK: Energy bills rise by 37% in 3 years.

In Germany:

Today an average family of four in Germany spends about $107 a month for electricity. This year, their monthly bill will be $129. The price hike is due to an increase in the Renewable Energy Surcharge. The surcharge is one of many government fees, taxes and subsidies that are passed on to average consumers and fund Germany’s renewable energy sector.

That’s a 20.6% increase.

And even in the USA: “We are now in an era of rising electricity prices,” said Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

And as for the ludicrous sight of Eskom begging South Africans to use less electricity (cue: “What other organisation asks people to use less of its product?” remarks), well – most other electricity suppliers around the world, actually.

As temperatures plunged to 16 below zero in Chicago in early January and set record lows across the eastern U.S., electrical system managers implored the public to turn off stoves, dryers and even lights or risk blackouts.

We’re not alone. We’re not even vaguely special when it comes to not having enough electricity to go around – how about this for a headline?

New research warns world to prepare for blackout

That’s right – the whole wide world.

It’s time to drop the victim mentality and give up on the self pity. The grass isn’t greener on the other side, or if it is, it’s only because of all the extra s**t over there.

Eskom might not be a world leader in electricity supply and production, but neither, it seems, is anyone else.

UPDATE: And Belgium.

Earlier than planned

A bit of a post of ephemera today, which I was going to do this evening, but which I have had to move forward as we are fully expecting to be loadshod later.

All of which brings me neatly to this lovely interactive loadshedding map for Cape Town (link courtesy of @RichardAtUCT), which tells you when you can expect to be in darkness this winter as Eskom once again fails to supply us with the requisite amount of electricity.
Remember, you can also see the full DIY version here – which actually works better if you are wanting to calculate by area, rather than time.
I can’t help but think that integrating the World Cup calendar in there would help as well: for example, I’m going to miss most of the Spain v Chile game this evening, should the switch be flicked.

Talking of the World Cup (“seamless segue” can like to be my middle name), after their defeat to the Ivory Coast in Recife earlier this week, Japanese fans gave the stadium a thorough spring clean. Yes, really.

We’re all fed up with linkbait headlines like the one on that Japan fans story:

Japan Fans Did What No Other Soccer Fans Would After Their World Cup Team Lost

Rather than:

Japanese Fans Clean Stadium After Their Team Lose At World Cup

And now, some enterprising soul (it’s @jakebeckman) has come up with @savedyouaclick, which helpfully and literally saves you a click to find out what the tantalising morsel at the end of the linkbait is:

Just like that.

Finally, never use the Main Road to get anywhere in Cape Town. It might be shorter in distance, but it will certainly be longer in time. I have no decent data or scientific evidence to back this up, but I do have a book to sell.
Well, no, I don’t, but if I did, that might lead me to cut a few corners on the “good science” side of things.

And now, I must disappear, before the electricity does. See you on the other side…

Cape Town Loadshedding Schedules


(For other cities/Eskom supplied areas – click here)

Loadshedding is back and once people realise this, the official City page will be inundated, will crash again and you, the information-hungry public, will be left in the dark, both literally and metaphorically.
Never fear: we’re here to help. Simply find your area’s number on this handy map – and then check out the images below to see when you can expect to be powerless.

To find out what stage loadshedding we’re on: check the red box on this page.



Hopefully, if we all do our bit, we can avoid the obvious nastiness of Stage 3, in which there’s almost as much darkness as light, although of course, it needs to be noted that if we didn’t have a mountain named after Lucifer overlooking our city, none of this would ever have happened.

EDIT: If you’re not on that map (like Table View), you’re supplied directly by Eskom, not the City and you need to go here to find your schedules.

Weren’t we lucky in 2010?

Can you remember all that time ago, back to those Halcyon days of Portugal v North Korea, France v Paraguay and no load-shedding? June 11th to July 11th 2010 was one of the finest months South Africa has ever had. No crime, seamless organisation and an amazing advert for the country in front of a worldwide audience.

It could all have been so different. Imagine, if you dare, that final at Soccer City. Howard Webb with his whistle, Nigel de Jong with his studs up and Andreas Iniesta going on another mazy dribble to absolutely nowhere, before falling over theatrically. The eyes of the world watching, enthralled…

And then the power goes out.

It’s a disaster. The country is a laughing stock and… and… well, look, it’s just a disaster, isn’t it?

But it didn’t happen. Despite the fact that we’ve long had power woes – 2008 in particular stands out as being load-shedtastic – we made it through that month with not even a flickering hint of a blackout. How?

Well, the answer comes – some 3½ years later – from a one Nelson Thabo Modupe, of Lichtenburg, who now tells us that:

he prevented power cuts during the 2010 Soccer World Cup through his prayers

You almost want his third name to be Jacob, don’t you? Just as long as his fourth one isn’t Julius.
Anyway, I digress. Often.

The fact is that Nelson saved the country from ridicule and deserves some sort of reward. He’s attempting to claim that now in the shape of a R250,000,000 (that’s about $6.09 at current exchange rates) payout from Eskom:

because he saved the power utility the burden and humiliation of load shedding

And, given the global audience and the hugely damaging effects of a power outage in any of the 64 World Cup games would have had, I think he probably deserves it. Cough up out of your phat R12.24 billion profit for the six months to September 2013, please Eskom. Give the man his money.

But before Nelson disappears off back to the North West province to buy heaps of precious metals with his newly-gained moola, just let’s hold on a bit.

Because with great power (and let’s face it, getting God to help Eskom out of tight spot is great power), comes great responsibility. And that’s where I think Nelson has let us all down.

How could we forget the infamous fake sign language interpreter at the Nelson Mandela Memorial service held at…wow… Soccer City, just last month? Yes, with (potentially even more of the) world’s eyes on us again, on the big stage – the biggest stage – we were internationally embarrassed. What an absolute shambles it was, start to finish. There were pieces in Time magazine, Sky News, the BBC and, Oh Sweet Jesus, even the Daily Mail – LIKE THEY NEED ANY MORE AMMUNITION?!?!?!?!???1!!

Nelson. Oh, Nelson (no, not that one, this one)… You could have prayed and you could have prevented this burden and humiliation of the fake sign language interpreter. You had the power to do this, Nelson, and yet you chose not to? Why would you expose us all to this ridicule, Nelson?

You have let the country down, and we deserve and demand compensation. Perhaps unsurprisingly for the purposes of this blog post, I feel that about R250,000,000 should see us suitably placated.

And now we know what you are capable of – and we freely admit that the whole Eskom thing was a truly remarkable effort, Nelson – I’ll give you until the end of February to have a word upstairs and get rid of that terrible Zuma bloke. Otherwise, I expect to see your cheque book out again.

I hope we’re clear on things now, Nelson.