South Africa

ROLLING BLACKOUTS

Load shedding resumes on Monday night, and Joburg is not exempt

Eskom is a double whammy for South Africa — rolling power outages and financial darkness. (Illustrative image | sources: Gallo Images/Jacques Stander / kisspng.com)

Load shedding will resume on Monday night across the country – and Johannesburg will not be spared, despite earlier assurances.

Johannesburg municipal power utility customers will not be exempt from load shedding as initially stated by City Power. Following a meeting with Eskom on Sunday, City Power has backtracked on its claim to protect customers from Stage 1 and Stage 2 load shedding, and has agreed to “work together” with Eskom, which will see the implementation of load shedding on Johannesburg customers “as required”. 

“Eskom and City Power have agreed to work together in the national interest and to protect the national grid. City Power will follow and implement the directive of the system operator, and implement load shedding on its customers in the City of Johannesburg as required,” the two entities said in a statement on Monday. 

This comes after new Johannesburg executive mayor Mpho Moerane weighed in on Eskom’s scheduled blackouts, and rejected the implementation of load shedding this weekend. 

The resumption of load shedding comes a week before elections, with power cuts and prices emerging as one of the biggest issues in the campaign for the 1 November polls – a hot-button issue among voters.

On Saturday, Eskom announced that, due to a shortage of generation capacity, Stage 2 load shedding would be implemented from 9pm on Saturday until 5am on Monday.

“This load shedding has been caused by breakdowns, numerous trips at various power stations, as well as delays in returning units to service. This has required us to rely heavily on emergency generation reserves, which are now at very low levels,” the power utility said in a statement

Eskom added that there had been multiple breakdowns and trips at Tutuka, Kriel, Hendrina, Kusile, Arnot and Kendal power stations over the past week. 

Load shedding is set to continue this week, after Eskom announced on Sunday that Stage 2 load shedding would resume between 9pm and 5am on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Following the announcement of load shedding over the weekend, City Power initially said municipal power utility customers would not experience load shedding as per Eskom’s directive. 

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the power utility had secured enough additional power through its recent partnership with an independent power producer, Kelvin Power Station, to keep the lights on for Joburg residents, exempting it from stages 1 and 2 load shedding. 

“City Power recently signed an extension of a Power Purchase Agreement with Kelvin Power Station which gave us extra up to 220MW capacity to offset at least Stage 1 and 2 imposed by Eskom. We therefore believe that with this extra capacity we will be able to cushion the residents of the City from the inconvenience of load shedding Stage 1 and 2,” Mangena said in a statement on Sunday. 

However, despite City Power’s claims, Johannesburg residents continued to experience load shedding during the weekend along with the rest of the country.

Amid the rolling blackouts, on Saturday the City of Johannesburg rejected Eskom’s scheduled load shedding, with Moerane describing Eskom’s planned load shedding in the city as “an unwarranted decision that cannot be left unchallenged on behalf of the people of Johannesburg”.

Moerane threatened “to go the legal route to halt Eskom’s blanket heavy-handedness against the people of Johannesburg”. 

However, Eskom and City Power appear to have rekindled their relationship and “have agreed to work together in the national interest and to protect the national grid”, according to a joint statement on Monday morning. 

While City Power had agreed to implement load shedding on its customers in Johannesburg “as required”, “Eskom and City Power will continue searching for a lasting technical solution which would result in City Power customers in Johannesburg being partially excluded from load shedding”.

“We had a meeting with Eskom where they presented a valid case of request that City Power should assist Eskom in terms of capacity, to ensure that they do not reach a point of total blackout”, City Power’s Mangena told Daily Maverick.

The extra capacity that City Power is receiving from Kelvin Power Station is assisting “in keeping Eskom afloat”, therefore Eskom requested that City Power oblige with their request to load-shed, said Mangena. 

City Power would meet Eskom on Monday evening to discuss additional ways to exclude Johannesburg residents from load shedding. 

“As City Power we want to forge ahead with excluding the residents of Johannesburg from Stage 1 and Stage 2 because of the new capacity that we are bringing into our grid.” DM

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  • We’ve had loading shedding for how long now and absolutely nothing has been done to solve it. Private solar and wind capacity could have closed the gap but then the ANC would have lost control over it. And all we get for this inconvenience is increased prices from Eishkom.