South Africa

NEWSFLASH

Load shedding escalated to Stage 4 and cuts ‘likely’ to be extended, warns Eskom

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Eskom has confirmed that South Africans face escalated load shedding from 2pm Friday with the likelihood of power cuts being extended beyond 6:00 on Saturday morning.

Stage 4 load shedding would be implemented nationwide from 2pm on Friday until 6 am Saturday, Eskom Deputy spokesperson Dikatso Mothae told Daily Maverick on Friday morning.

She said that South Africans had  previously experienced stage 4 load shedding – which  allows for up to 4000 MW of the national load to be shed –  over five days in March this year.

And, it is “likely” that there will be more load shedding during the weekend, although Eskom would not be able to confirm this till later because the system is “extremely vulnerable and volatile” – which made it difficult to make long term predictions, she said.

South Africans woke up to the announcement of Stage 2 load shedding on Friday, 6 December, after Eskom had implemented rotational power cuts the previous evening. Eskom’s statement said that load shedding would be implemented from 9am Friday until 6am Saturday.

This time round, the Eskom statement claimed that load shedding has returned due to the “low levels of reliability” from their generating plant and their inability “to return units from planned or unplanned maintenance as scheduled”.

Eskom added that due to the large amounts of rain, its coal was wet and that contributed “to additional load losses”.

This could further impact supply as the rainy weather persists. While not expected or planned, further deterioration of plant performance or emergence of other risks may necessitate invoking further stages of load-shedding,” said Eskom.

The latest load shedding follows the previous rolling power cuts that started on 16 October. Back then, the explanation given was that it was due to “delays in the return to the service of units that are on planned maintenance and a limited diesel supply”, as well as a conveyor belt breaking at a power station.

At the time, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged the impact of load shedding in his weekly newsletter, namely the cost to the economy as investors become uneasy and South Africans “frustrated and angry”.

Ramaphosa called for a “diversified energy mix” that would alleviate pressure on Eskom’s coal-powered stations and reduce emissions.

Andre de Ruyter will be starting his job of trying to rescue Eskom when he takes his position as CEO on 15 January 2020. DM

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