What stage 4 load shedding means for you

Eskom has announced stage 4 load shedding on Monday, following the loss of six additional power generating units.

Stage 4 load shedding removes 4,000MW of power from the grid, leaving homes and businesses without power for longer.

Load shedding is expected to continue until 22h00 this evening, the power utility said. “Load shedding will be used under emergency conditions for limited periods,” it said.

Four schedules have been developed based on the possibility of risk and to ensure that load shedding is applied in a fair and equitable manner:

  • Stage 1 allows for up to 1,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
  • Stage 2 allows for up to 2,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
  • Stage 3 allows for up to 3,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
  • Stage 4 allows for up to 4,000 MW of the national load to be shed.

Load shedding will be implemented in most instances in 2 hour blocks.

However, in Eskom-supplied Johannesburg areas, blocks are 4 hours long. This is to coincide with City Power’s 4 hour schedule, the state company said.

Each of the time periods has an additional 30 minutes added to allow for switching of networks in a way that will not damage the power system.

Most customers (those in 2 hour blocks) may therefore be without electricity for up to 2.5 hours at a time, while customers in 4 hour blocks may be without electricity for up to 4.5 hours at a time.

Eskom said it will begin load shedding customers at the start of the period (for example from 06h00), and will have all scheduled customers switched off within the first half hour (that is, by 06h30).

At the end of the period, after the two / four hours (that is, by 08h00 or 10h00 as applicable), Eskom will start returning power to customers and should have them all back within half an hour (that is, by 08h30 or 10h30).

The frequency of load shedding increases as higher Stages are used:

  • Stage 1 requires the least amount of load shedding, 3 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 3 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.
  • Stage 2 will double the frequency of Stage 1, which means you will be scheduled for load shedding 6 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 6 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.
  • Stage 3 will increase the frequency of Stage 2 by 50%, which means you will be scheduled for load shedding 9 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 9 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.
  • Stage 4 will double the frequency of Stage 2, which means you will be scheduled for load shedding 12 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 12 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.

“If more load needs to be shed than has been scheduled in Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 then National Control will instruct additional, unscheduled load shedding. This means you may be shed outside of your scheduled times, Eskom said.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland warned that stage 2 load shedding of 2,000MW is set to cost South Africa’s productive economy R2 billion daily, the Citizen reported.

“The amount of electricity reserves are currently low due to a poor performance of the six generation units at the Medupi power station.

“Although you are dealing with new units, there are breakdowns in new plants due to the design and execution of the project. Problems in the boilers and dust handling plants can be technically traced back to the construction phase,” Yelland said.

He said that the “cost of R2 billion for 13 hours daily in the country’s productive economy due to the stage 2 load shedding of 2,000MW is something that could have been averted”, citing a lack of skills at the state owned entity.

And, speaking to the Sunday Times, Annabel Bishop, chief economist at Investec, said that there were a number of reasons why analysts are growing increasingly cautious of the state-owned enterprise.

“SOEs remain a key concern, especially Eskom,” she said.

“Given the parlous state of Eskom’s financial position, load shedding could persist into 2019 and if it was as extreme as in early 2008, GDP for Q1 2019 could see growth cut by as much as a third to a half.”

  • You can check your load shedding schedule, here.

Read: Eskom is losing R500 million every month: CFO

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What stage 4 load shedding means for you