Does Load-Shedding Hike Up Your Electricity Bill?

We're as sick and tired of hearing bad news as you are, so we decided to report on something helpful instead. Something informative and enlightening and which could save you some money. We asked the question: does load-shedding hike up your electricity bill? And if so, what can we do about it?
Jason Snyman
2019-03-26

By now, the nation is thoroughly – and understandably – sick and tired of hearing about South Africa’s hopelessly inadequate power utility, Eskom.

Oh, Eskom forgot to order diesel this week, and then it casually cancelled crucial maintenance on boiler tubes a year and a half ago, and the new coal-fired power plants were seemingly designed and built by five-year olds, and now the sub-stations are on fire, and it’s all going to hell in a hand-basket, and nobody knows what to do. 

Just another Tuesday at the office.

Even the DA’s new tagline – We Have a Plan to Keep the Lights On – speaks volumes. When the opposition party’s main tactic to garner votes for the upcoming election is based on the idea of a country with working, reliable electricity, then perhaps we’re in a lot more trouble that we thought. This shouldn’t be a value proposition, because problems like these should not exist in the first place. 

The promise of dependable power and clean drinking water. This is what we base our votes on. This is as high as we can dream right now. This is how far-reaching and deep-rooted the Eskom debacle really is.

As is evident, journalists don’t care much for reporting on Eskom’s many woes, day-in, day-out, either. It has become too disheartening to think about. So! We’re not here to bring you any grim news today. Instead, we thought we would bring you something enlightening and informative – something that will help you, our dear readers, as we navigate the looming darkness together.

We ask the question: does load-shedding hike up your electricity bill?

We Lied, It’s All Grim News

The answer is yes. Load-shedding does, indeed, hike up your electricity bill.

Now, this may seem illogical. We’re sitting without electricity for hours on end – sometimes even during what should be the most productive and most electricity-heavy hours of the day. So, how can this possibly be true?

Well, according to energy expert, Ted Blom, when appliances are switched on after load-shedding, there is a gigantic surge in demand for power. 

What many people don’t know – and will only just now find out, to their absolute disgust – is that we pay a penalty on peak demand. If your peak demand goes up, you pay an extra amount on your monthly account. Heavy electricity-reliant equipment, for example, can more than double your monthly account when left to surge on and off all day. 

What many people also don’t know – and will only just now find out, to even further, more uncompromising disgust – is that even though electricity may be unavailable at times, you’re still paying for power availability. According to Blom, this is known as a ‘line charge.’

In the event of load-shedding, for example, every consumer is entitled to a rebate for this line charge. But, again, very few people are even aware of it. According to Blom, over half of what we’re charged for electricity, each and every month, is for line availability – or line capacity. 

How is it then, that we could be paying more, for exceedingly unreliable electricity, which is exceedingly less available?

What are we paying for?

What Can We Do To Ease The Load?

Don’t bother looking to the Eskom board, the Minister of Public Enterprises, or even the Presidency, for answers. Because they don’t have any, and have no idea what they’re doing. 

Both Pravin Gordhan and the new Eskom board seized control of the situation over a year ago, and – to the public eye, at least – it doesn’t seem as if anybody knows what’s going on. 

Ted Blom said:

They are now discovering new things, and are putting up pictures of power stations and boilers as if it is the first time they have seen something like that.

While a full audit and turnaround plan should have been carried out and implemented 15 months ago – with full teams of experts at their disposal – not much has been done to save the power utility from almost certain doom. 

According to Blom, it may take years and years to remedy the load-shedding fiasco – provided the power grid doesn’t collapse in on itself due to further strokes of sheer idiocy. 

Until then, the price of electricity also goes up on the 1st of April, 2019, in what is to be the first of three consecutive annual tariff increases.

What can you do to save money and ease the blow of load-shedding?

  • Follow the Load-Shedding Schedule

Easier said than done, we know, since municipalities don’t seem overly-interested in following the schedules themselves. There is a very handy phone app, free to download, to help South Africans out. It’s called, appropriately, EskomSePush

  • Unplug Sensitive Equipment and Appliances

Especially power-greedy items such as heaters, pool pumps, etc. Not only will this prevent you from incurring unnecessary peak demand penalties, but it will also protect all of your appliances and equipment that are sensitive to power surges. These could be anything from laptops on charge, PCs, LCD screens, servers and even smartphones tethered to a wall socket. When the power comes back on, that spike in electrical flow could do incredible damage to these items.

Better yet, invest in inverters, manual cash registers or UPS protection. The dark times are here to stay; these are good investments to make.

  • Take a Close Look At Your Insurance

It’s important to review the wording in your policies – particularly when it comes to household content or building insurance – to see exactly what is covered during a blackout, and then speak to your broker about any additional cover you may require.

Furthermore, never ever run your generator inside your home, make sure your alarm systems are working, invest in solar powered lighting for outside and – we cannot stress this enough – always be vigilant during the loathsome load-shedding hours.

The night is dark and full of terrors. 

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