Massive headache for complexes and gated communities in South Africa

 ·3 Apr 2023

The City of Cape Town’s health department is receiving more generator noise complaints than ever before, as load shedding continues to cause headaches for residents living in close proximity to each other.

According to the city, between February 2022 and February 2023, City Health received nearly 200 noise complaints, compared to 60 during the previous 12 months.

With winter approaching and no clear indication of when load shedding could stop – the city has now advised residents to be mindful of the guidelines around the use of generators.

Patricia van der Ross, councillor for the mayoral committee for community services and health, said that the rise in complaints tracks with the sustained levels of load shedding.

She said that despite generators making life easier, it does necessitate a mutual understanding and consideration when it comes to the use of them in or near residential areas.

“Apart from ensuring that they are installed and operating correctly, generators can be quite loud when in operation and also be the source of emissions or odours. These are all things that need to be carefully considered and managed,” she added.

The councillor said there are a number of regulations relating to the ownership and use of generators.

In terms of generator authorisation processes, the Department of Energy regulates the process of embedded low-voltage generator installations in the city, she said.

“There are a number of other regulations that could also be applied, including the City’s Air Quality Management By-law, the Community Fire Safety By-law as relates to fuel storage requirements, and the Western Cape Noise Control Regulations.”

The city noted the following factors to keep in mind when you own a generator:

  • Be aware of the requirements around the installation/fuel storage
  • The pollution factor, including noise and emissions that affect human health and climate change
  • Budget for possible noise abatement as well as the elimination of fumes and ongoing maintenance of the plant

For these reasons, we encourage the use of alternative energy solutions, such as Solar PV, Inverters and battery storage, for those who can afford it, said the city.

Cape Town’s health division requires a complaint to be lodged with the following information:

  • Contact details
  • The locality of the noise source
  • Any other relevant information pertaining to the complaint

Officials will investigate the complaint and advise on the necessary actions to ensure compliance, it said.

This could include alterations to the exhaust system serving the appliance, among other requirements.

“For this reason, it is beholden to installing engineers to exercise the necessary due care in the design and installation of the exhaust systems so as to ensure no nuisance conditions arise during the operation of the generator.”

“In the event of continued non-compliance, further legal action will be taken,” said the city.

Load shedding is showing no signs of slowing down despite numerous government interventions. Coming into the winter months, analysts and researchers have argued that the worst is yet to come, with the demand for electricity set to skyrocket in the colder months – putting more strain on the already embattled Eskom.

On Sunday (2 April), Eskom announced that it would continue with Stage 4 load shedding this week as breakdowns outweigh generating capacity and delays plague bringing some units back online.

Households across the country are now turning to alternative power supplies if they can afford the hefty price tag.

Recent data from BrandMapp that surveyed over 1,400 respondents found that, in many cases, the cost of mitigating load shedding is more than the monthly electricity bill.

Almost two-thirds of middle-class households spend less than R2,000 a month on electricity. However, most households are spending up to R5,000 to prevent load shedding.

Despite this, a 1,000wh portable inverter costs around R8,000 – indicating that people are turning to quick fixes rather than longer-term solutions, reported BrandMapp.

Read: Cape Town’s big plan to stop load shedding is coming this week

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