Minor loadshedding cost thoughts

Thursday: I went to the gym this morning. Yes, the hard work goes on.

And it was harder work than usual this morning because there was no electricity at the gym. Not directly because of loadshedding, but because of a substation fault, caused by the overnight loadshedding (according to the frustrated electrician I spoke to). Gym was emptier than usual, because a lot of the machines weren’t working, preventing people from working out. In addition, the aircon wasn’t working and it was HOT and humid.

I did what I could on the weights and the freerunning treadmill, but the temperature and yesterday’s blood doning left me a little short of energy.

And then when I left, I couldn’t validate my parking ticket to get my free parking. Understanding this, the car parking people had left the booms open – free parking all round this morning then. And that got me thinking: just how much is this loadshedding costing the economy?

A few thousand for the parking company this morning, maybe?  And even if they get the fault fixed by lunchtime, there’s another 2½ hours of genuine loadshedding this afternoon.

The Kauai outlet in the gym wasn’t able to operate: no fridges, no tillpoints, no smoothie makers, no hot water for coffees. Another few thousand there, maybe?
Pick and Pay was still operating downstairs, their generator churning out noise and fumes, but the other shops weren’t able to open.

And this is just one building, just one morning.

So yes, without electricity, daily life goes on in some limited form or other, but it’s irritating, costly and difficult. And we’re set for at least another 18 months of this nonsense.

Rush Hour Relief

Careful now.

This isn’t some dodgy spin off of the hilarious* Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker series of films. This is Eskom’s plan to suspend loadshedding between 6 and 9 in the morning, and 4 and 6 in the evening. Many (but not all) traffic lights rely on mains electricity to work, and when there is no mains electricity, the situation is a right beagle’s breakfast. And so this is good news and a sensible decision to spare South Africans even more suffering at the hands of the sometime power generating company.

It’s not all happy happy joy joy though. In order to have regular relief from loadshedding, you need to have regular loadshedding, and yes – just checking – we’re getting close to the middle of a week of Stage 2, during which we lose up to 5 hours of power each day. It’s necessary, it’s unavoidable, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s also infuriating and abnormal.

And then there was this evening, whereby I had plans to use the oven during the 4-6 safety period, but it never arrived (the safety period, not the oven). Not enough generating capacity to provide those extra two hours, apparently. Breakdowns, planned maintenance, an aging system hanging on by its fingertips over the precipice of total collapse. You know, just the routine stuff.

And so we missed out on our relief this evening. Tomorrow morning, we’re due to be loadshod between 6 and 8:30 in the morning. Theoretically, we should avoid the power being cut then as well, but then theoretically, we should have avoided it this evening as well. I had to change my cookery plans this evening, and it wasn’t a train-smash.

If I have to wait two and a half hours for my first coffee tomorrow, the consequences might be slightly different.

 

* T&Cs may apply

Life lessons from Eskom

Eskom (our state-notverywell-run power utility) has warned again of potential loadshedding this evening*. Of course, the system could always go tits up well before that, or not at all. I realise that this isn’t an exact science and despite also being really pissed off about it, I do see that there’s no point in pretending that their predictive abilities should be 100%.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

And while not wanting in the slightest to normalise loadshedding (because we should be angry and vocal about it) we still need to get on with our lives. Being aware of what might be happening later allows us to plan ahead and be prepared. We don’t have to enjoy it, but it does make a crappy situation slightly more bearable if you know it’s coming.

Equally, if there are simple actions we can all take to mitigate the risk of loadshedding, I don’t see why we shouldn’t take them. Surprise, surprise: most of these actions involve using less electricity. People mock Eskom as being the only company in the world trying to dissuade customers from using its product, but actually, most utilities (water, gas, electricity) around the globe recognise that sensible usage of resources is a good thing. I remember visits to school from the Yorkshire Electricity Board telling us to switch off lights and not overfill kettles – it’s just the same sort of idea.

An aside: When Eskom announce these “ways to cut down on your electricity usage and help us avoid loadshedding” things, some people will always respond with something along the lines of:

Screw you. I’m going to use as much electricity as I can, just because you said not to. I’m not listening to your advice, you useless, corrupt bunch of [afrikaans anatomy]. Switching ALL my lights on RIGHT NOW!

These people are fucking idiots, and will be the same ones who complained about the size of their electricity bill just a few days previously. Not only will this raise the chances of loadshedding (albeit by a tiny amount), it will also cost them more money at the end of the month. Tosspots.

Anyway, I digress. Often.

Eskom really took the proverbial biscuit this time around, by telling South Africa how to use… a window and some curtains.

Seriously:

Right. It’s a complex set of instructions, but I’m going have a go at explaining it. I think (think) what they are saying is that when it is light outside… and you need some of that light to come inside into your living room or bedroom… you should open your curtains and/or blinds. This will allow unfettered passage of light through the transparent aperture in the window space, and into the room in question.

So that’s light… from outside… coming inside. Still with me? Good.

But oh noes! This will surely only work during the day! That’s because after the day, the sun goes to sleep and is replaced by the night shift crew of the moon and the stars, so there is no light. Apparently, the technical term for this is “dark”. Even if you open your curtains and blinds at this time, no light will come inside from outside, because there is no light to come inside from outside.

It seems that at this point, the general advice is that you should switch on electric lights. Assuming that electricity is available to make them work (and really, who knows if that will be the case), this will allow the room to be lit from the inside. You should probably remember to close your curtains and blinds if you are taking this approach, because otherwise, the light will escape to the outside and the Luftwaffe will know where to bomb.

Not good.

Wow. I’m already exhausted. I think we need to take a break here, before we overload on how to use “curtains” and “blinds”. It’s all just so deeply technical.

So let’s leave it here for now, maybe read through this again when you’ve had a quick nap. But be warned: tomorrow, we move onto “doors” and “doorways” and the advantages of them being open when trying to use them as a means of entering or exiting a room.

But don’t worry about that right now. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Today is all about windows. And loadshedding.

 

 

* post written Thursday lunchtime

A day early

I had promised my dad, who’s over for a couple of weeks visiting his grandkids and grandbeagle, some traditional South African loadshedding, but we all thought that it would kick in tomorrow, when everyone goes back to work and the demand for electricity we can’t provide goes up.

Not the case, as at 10pm yesterday evening, Eskom announced a night of Stage 2, ostensibly in order to top up their diesel and repump their water. This didn’t directly affect us, thanks to a friendly schedule, but then we woke this morning to a 24 hour extension, meaning no coffee for me, and no early morning Scalectrix for the beagle.

Understandably, we’re both pretty annoyed right now.

I’m also wondering what the immediate reason is for today’s loadshedding, given that the diesel and the water were sorted overnight. It doesn’t bode well for the rest of the week. Or for the rest of the year.

 

Candle

We were loadshod during the good TV and the Champions League last night. I knew that it was coming, so it wasn’t that much of a problem, but halfway through, I was bored already, having done all the things I had planned to do. So I shot my candle.

Handheld, with my 50mm lens. 1/50s, f/2.5, ISO 100.

We got these ‘cheap and nasty’ candles a few years ago now, but they burn so brightly and they last for ages.

No loadshedding planned for this evening, so it’s candle-free pizza and Europa League all the way.