HERE is a suggested alternative to the current load-shedding or controlled blackouts. It is called brown-out.
Unlike a blackout, in which all power is completely shut off, a brown-out occurs when the electricity provider reduces the voltage. This results in light bulbs shining dimly, but still providing some light – hence the term brown-out.
Brown-out is a recognised method of load-shedding, though it has probably not been used in South Africa, at least in modern times. However, it is not without its drawbacks.
Certain types of machinery are likely to malfunction as a result of it, while resistance-based appliances such as stoves will simply take longer to heat, thus saving no electricity. I do not know whether energy-saving lamps will work at all at a reduced voltage, but if we are to endure load-shedding for so many more years, it may be feasible to modify energy-saving lamps at the manufacturing stage.
Obviously a lot of research and debate would have to go into the possibility of using brown-outs. I think the general idea could just work if Eskom and the municipalities could stick to their load-shedding schedules, thereby allowing individuals to disconnect their damage-prone machines when a brown-out is due, and allowing most of us to get on with our lives, albeit with reduced visibility or speed.
-J J Ossher, Uitenhage