Substations trip in Ward 77

Most business and restaurants on Kloof Street were adversely affected by an extended power outage last week.

In addition to the scheduled load-shedding, businesses and residents in Tamboerskloof and Oranjezicht had to deal with a substation malfunctioning last Wednesday.

According to Beverley van Reenen, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for energy, they were informed of the blackout minutes after scheduled load-shedding took place.

“City teams were dispatched to investigate and located a tripped protection relay at the Oranjezicht Estate Substation,” she said.

“The electricity team managed to restore the supply via alternative feeders. However, unfortunately, due to cold load (typically this occurs when the supply has been off for more than four hours causing an increase in load when it is switched on), the feeder tripped a second time. Teams were still in the area and managed to restore the power shortly thereafter,” Ms Van Reenen said.

“The affected protection relay has been checked and the settings have been adjusted to reduce the possibility of a similar incident in future and the system has been restored to its normal operating condition,” she added.

Ms Van Reenen did not comment on the costs of the repairs nor did she offer a long-term solution for this impediment.

Francine Higham, the councillor for Ward 77, said the incident illustrated the impact of load shedding.

“The constant on-again-off-again is causing dozens of localised trips at our heavy machinery such as water pumps, sewage pump stations, electricity transformers and substations.

“City teams are out in full force dealing with these local faults when they happen, and most can be resolved quickly, others take a bit more time,” Ms Higham said.

“I understand the frustration that residents are facing with the continued load-shedding and, like many of you, I am very concerned about the impact this is having not only on our livelihoods, businesses and infrastructure, but also on the safety of the community as the dark streets mean criminals can move about undetected.”

Ms Higham added that she was inundated with calls about why some areas don’t seem to experience load shedding at all.

“Within Zone 7 the electricity grid is connected to multiple substations. In most cases the decision to keep certain substations on during load shedding is because the City is trying to reduce risks and avoid disasters,” Ms Higham said.

“High density and high traffic areas such as the CBD for example are less likely to get load shedding because we need to keep people moving quickly through these areas and we need traffic lights to work. Some areas may not be high risk, but don’t get load shedding because they happen to be on the grid for a substation within an area that is high risk and then they’re just lucky,” she said.

Kirk Low, head chef of Bombay Bicycle Club in Gardens, said the power outage last week left them in the dark for several hours.

“It affected us badly and some customers left because of it. We cook with gas and the extractor could not be used so it was not possible to use the stove,” said Mr Low.

“The City of Cape Town informed us of what they are doing and we have a reference number to check the process. They are doing what they can to curb load shedding but that was an unexpected problem.”

Dillon Pritchard, the owner of Liquorice and Lime cafe, said the unscheduled loss of electricity affected their baking.

“We prepare meals for families on a daily basis and we plan this around the load shedding schedule, but this outage affected the baking process and we had to get rid of batter due to this,” said Mr Pritchard.

He added that they had adapted their cooking method due to load shedding.

“We make do with the gas stove, we can do French press coffee, tea, and we can make toast on the float top. So we’ve adapted,” he said.

“The infrastructure is ageing and it’s not designed to go on and off three times a day so it’s understandable that something like this happened.”