Eskom wants to use smart meters to limit the electricity supply to households and force people to switch off their geysers and home appliances.
Eskom chairman Mpho Makwana said demand side management (DSM) allows for effectively managing customers’ energy consumption to reduce peak demand.
DSM programmes will reduce pressure on the power system and enable consumers to realise cost savings by being more energy conscious.
Makwana made these comments during the inaugural National Demand Management Indaba, which took place last month.
Eskom’s group executive of distribution, Monde Bala, said deploying smart meters is a key enabler to demand side management.
Using smart meters, Eskom and municipalities can do load management and load-shifting, reducing pressure on the grid during peak time.
Eskom chief engineer Edison Makwarela expanded on the smart meter plans, including load-limiting to reduce usage.
He said the rollout of new meters that can be controlled remotely to manage electricity demand and supply presents many opportunities in the country.
They want to install a smart meter in every South African household. It is set to cost R16 billion and take four years.
These smart meters support two-way communication, which empowers Eskom to limit the power supply to a home.
Because the power supply is limited, users will be forced to switch off appliances that draw a lot of electricity, like geysers or stoves.
Vally Padayachee, a former Eskom executive manager and former City Power senior executive, shed more light on the issue.
He explained while smart meters can be used to switch off geysers and appliances remotely, they are blunt instruments that can have undesired consequences.
“A better option is for the system operator or control room to limit the load. This, in turn, encourages the customer to drop their load,” Padayachee.
The plan is to reduce the load during peak times by 7,000MW by installing smart meters in every home.
“The intent is to get every home to install a smart meter which will hopefully be achieved through the incentives offered,” he said.
Padayachee added that it could be a valuable tool to significantly reduce load-shedding to stage 1 or 2 instead of what the country is currently experiencing.