Consumer response to power conservation program.
In January 2008 the South African power grid operated by Eskom became severely constrained because electricity demand exceeded supply. Following the immediate measure of load shedding, Eskom implemented a medium term strategy of Power Conservation to encourage consumers to reduce their power usage so that overall demand could be managed. Despite the extensive campaigns the 10% electricity savings target was not met in 2008. The aim of this study was to review the experiences of other countries that had successfully implemented Power Conservation Programmes and to research the different approaches that were taken in other countries to encourage behaviour change. A survey and quantitative analysis was undertaken on a sample of electricity consumers within the eThekwini Municipality Central Region to gauge the response of consumers to the power conservation campaigns conducted within the municipality. The analysis was done to determine how the response had varied among the various groups by taking into account demographic factors like age, gender and income level. The population of the sample frame was estimated at 15 000 customers. Two hundred and eighty responses were received and analysed. A salient finding of the study was that the majority of respondents were aware of the reasons for power conservation and the campaigns undertaken, but that there was a preference for Government to lead the initiative and subsidise the required savings measures. A second important finding was that different demographic groups implemented different savings measures, for different reasons and preferred different strategies to encourage savings. The main recommendations made were that Government should lead the savings drive, with customised campaigns for different demographic groups. The campaigns should place greater emphasis on the financial benefits to be gained. It was necessary for new and different savings measures to be communicated. Further, the was a need for Government to introduce legislation to enforce electricity savings.