Warning of power crisis beyond load shedding

 ·9 May 2023

The City of Tshwane has warned that load shedding, especially at stage 6, is having undesired knock-on effects on the electricity infrastructure in the area.

Themba Fosi, the MMC for utilities and regional operations and coordination, said that higher levels of load shedding are affecting the authority’s ability to deal with outages.

According to the MCC, stage 6 load shedding means that rolling blackouts affect parts of Tshwane two or three times a day.

“Our networks were never designed for load shedding, and continuously running electricity off and on has a major impact on the condition of our network infrastructure,” said Fosi.

“As the frequency of load shedding increases, city resources will be stretched with just switching areas off and on.”

“The same teams needed to perform this switching also play a critical role in electricity network repair and maintenance work and will have significantly less time available to work on restoring electricity on outages that are not related to load shedding,” said Fosi.

On top of this, the region has been experiencing heavy rains, making the situation worse, with wet weather increasing the likelihood of equipment faults.

“This situation is very serious for the entire Tshwane.”

As a result of the dire situation Tshwane finds itself in, the city has called on consumers to turn off all appliances during load shedding, leaving only lights on as surges can cause areas to trip minutes after being restored back online.

Load shedding has also led to metros being without water at certain times. Earlier this year, high-lying areas in the region, including Laudium and Waterkloof Ridge, faced water outages as load shedding disrupted water pumps.

The frequency of load shedding is only expected to get worse this coming winter, with analysts, the minister of electricity and researchers all pointing to a cold dark winter where demand for power is expected to skyrocket and supply to remain relatively the same.

Speaking to SABC News on Monday (8 May), the minister of electricity Kgosientsho Ramokqopa said that winter could bring with it higher stages of load shedding beyond stage 6.

Coming into the winter months, Eskom has created various scenarios based on predicted supply and historical demand over the next few months.

The most optimistic scenario could result in stage 4 to 5 load shedding during the coldest three months, while the most pessimistic scenario could see stages 7 and 8 being implemented.

The best-case scenario predicts 16,000MW of unplanned outages, while the worst-case scenario predicts 18,000MW. As recently as Sunday, however, the power company experienced 19,333MW of unplanned outages, surpassing the worst-case scenario.

Read: Government to challenge load shedding exemptions for Hospitals and schools

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