Winter load shedding is here to stay: Eskom

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha says South Africa’s latest round of stage 4 load shedding is a direct result of ageing power plants that have led to recurring breakdowns.

Mantshantsha told the SABC that the embattled power utility has had to rely on diesel and hydro-storage to keep the country’s lights on as it rushes to address these failures.

In an effort to further save diesel reserves, Mantshantsha said that the power utility had to move to stage 4 load shedding on Wednesday afternoon (9 June) after more than 15 power units were reported offline.

He said that teams and engineers have had to rush in and try and return power units to operation as quickly as possible.

Outside of certain national key points, which are legally protected from power cuts, Mantshantsha said that the whole country was experiencing load shedding.

He said that the amount of damage that these outages has caused to infrastructure, and at a societal and economic level, cannot be overestimated.

“There is no doubt that a lot of damage is being caused by load shedding and Eskom would like to apologise to the South African public for the inconvenience. The reality is that load shedding is being implemented as a last resort to safeguard the integrity of the national grid.”

Mantshantsha said that Eskom does not currently have a plan to implement stage 6 load shedding, and that the utility was doing everything it can to lower the cuts back to stage 2.

While load shedding has been scheduled up until Sunday evening, Mantshantsha said that South Africans can expect power cuts to continue throughout the rest of winter.

Economists have warned that a lack of reliable and cost-effective electricity supply is one of the single biggest risks to South Africa right now.

Nedbank has warned that fixed investment will be slow to recover after the Covid-19 lockdown, hurt by ample spare capacity, frequent power outages and the slow implementation of structural reforms.

The group added that Eskom’s problems could hurt South Africa’s long-term growth prospects if they are not addressed.

“The government recently opened the fifth bid window for renewable energy projects. Progress on this front could lift business confidence and stimulate investment spending over the medium term.

“Although the outlook still depends on the virus’s progression, the economy looks likely to post growth closer to 4.9% in calendar 2021, up from our earlier estimate of 4.4%.”

Move to stage 3 

Eskom said it will increase load shedding from stage 2 to stage 3 on Thursday after further breakdowns at three power stations.

“Breakdowns currently total 13,995MW of capacity, while planned maintenance is 1,273MW of capacity,” Eskom said. “As a result, stage 3 load shedding will be required between 08h00 and 22h00 on Thursday, after which stage 2 will be implemented again.”

Eskom said it will use the higher intensity load shedding to continue replenishing its depleted emergency generation reserves.

It again emphasised that its capacity constraints will continue for the foreseeable future, and urged South Africans to reduce their electricity usage.

For those living in the major metros, the load shedding schedules are available here:

For access to other load shedding schedules, Eskom has made them available on loadshedding.eskom.co.za.

Smartphone users can also download the app EskomSePush to receive push notifications when load shedding is implemented, as well as the times the area you are in will be off.


Read: South Africa has 500 days to sort out its energy and load shedding mess: think tank

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Winter load shedding is here to stay: Eskom