Why are the lights on?

Phindile Maxiti, Mayoral committee member for energy and climate change

City residents often want to know why some streetlights are left on during the day. This is always understandable and especially true during Eskom’s intermittent load-shedding when residents are sensitive to electricity scarcity and supply.

Under normal circumstances, there would be no justification for wasting power. We should all be diligently conserving this precious commodity.

However, there are several reasons for streetlights that are on during the day. One is that the public lights of certain City-managed roads may be kept on to deter theft of electricity and vandalism of infrastructure. Others include that streetlights can be switched on manually for maintenance purposes and to protect streetlight cables against physical damage by civil contractors as contractors have equipment that can pinpoint the exact locations of energised cables. The control mechanism that automatically switches the lights on and off can also become faulty.

It’s understandable that our residents are concerned about instances of streetlights burning during the day. But the City does have good reason for doing so and the benefits of keeping them on far outweighs the benefits of switching them off. Streetlights are very efficient and of low energy consumption. The impact of the lights burning is not as big as it might seem.

When it comes to theft and vandalism in particular, it’s important to keep in mind that the cost of keeping relatively small stretches of lights burning pales in comparison to the astronomical amounts associated with the replacement of the same length of stolen cable and vandalised equipment. The City is spending millions of rands to repair and replace vital electricity infrastructure as a result of theft and vandalism. Keeping streetlights on has proved to be an effective deterrent as thieves rarely risk their lives by hacking into live wires.

In the six months to March 2019, there were about 70 incidents of electricity vandalism and theft in the metro. In Area East, which includes Goodwood, Parow, Gordon’s Bay and surrounds, there was an estimated R1.2 million in vandalism and theft. In Area South, which includes Philippi, Mitchells Plain, Muizenberg and surrounds, there was an estimated R3.2 million in vandalism and theft.

Streetlights may also be on during day time due to a faulty control circuit and for this purpose, as customer complaints form an important part of effective streetlight maintenance, it is requested that customers report streetlights that are on during daytime or faulty streetlights to the City’s Fault Reporting Centre preferably via email at FaulReporting.Centre@capetown.gov.za or telephonically at 0860 103 089 or SMS 31220. Customers will receive a notification number which may be used for follow up purposes. Please always ask for a reference number and keep it at hand.
Be energy-wise

* Switch off appliances that you don’t need.

* Switch off your geyser and only switch it on for up to two hours a day. This will save a lot of electricity and it will save you money.

* Delay switching on lights and appliances until after the peak periods (between 5pm and 9pm) whenever possible.

* Switch off your pool pump, geyser and other large electrical equipment, and never run both at the same time.

* Adjust air conditioners to 23 degrees Celsius if you need to use them

* Visit www.SavingElectricity.org.za for more tips to save electricity and follow load-shedding developments on www.capetown.gov.za/loadshedding and the City’s social media platforms