Energy analyst Chris Yelland said that lower electricity demand is behind Eskom’s ability to prevent load shedding.
Speaking on Business Day TV, Yelland said the lower demand gave Eskom the breathing room to do much-needed maintenance without the need for load shedding.
The lower demand, he said, is a consequence of the weak economic situation in the country, and it will take Eskom a few years to address its problems with maintenance.
Yelland warned that we should not take too much comfort from the fact that load shedding has stopped for now, though.
Eskom CEO Brian Molefe attacked Yelland’s arguments, saying Eskom does not have a demand crisis, and that his article on the matter was “way off the mark”.
Molefe did concede that the need for load shedding was reduced because of slower economic growth, but said demand had only been reduced for “three weeks or so”.
Yelland hit back, saying that the figures speak for themselves. “The data and figures from the graphs I have published comes straight off Eskom’s website,” he said.
“There is no arguing that demand is down by 5% – it is a fact. The graphs which Molefe presented were not demand graphs, they were energy graphs”.
“I am beginning to wonder if the Eskom CEO knows the difference between energy and demand,” said Yelland.
Yelland added that load curtailment – where large industrial companies are asked to reduce their electricity use – still continues.
Load curtailment has a negative effect on the productivity of these companies, which in turn dampens the country’s economic growth.
Yelland said load curtailment has been relatively low in recent months, which we should be thankful for.
The energy demand graph, which is at the heart of the dispute between Yelland and Molefe, is below.