Eskom implemented load-shedding for the first time since the start of the lockdown as a result of several power plant breakdowns exceeding 3,000MW in capacity.
The stage 2 load-shedding, which started on Friday morning, continued on Saturday despite some units returning to service.
Three of the six generation units contributing to the earlier breakdowns were successfully returned to service at Tutuka, Arnot and Matimba powers stations as of Friday evening.
The prolonged load-shedding, Eskom said, is necessary to replenish the emergency generation reserves to better prepare for the coming week.
Eskom added that the delayed return to service of a generation unit at the Duvha power station has added significant pressure to the generation system.
It said the cold weather has further resulted in demand for electricity increasing significantly and urged the public to reduce usage to help the utility limit the impact of load-shedding.
Eskom said the reaction to its calls to reduce usage earlier in the week assisted in avoiding the need for load-shedding on Wednesday and Thursday night.
Load-shedding and work-from-home
Many employees are currently working from home as a measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.
A stable electricity supply is a core ingredient to support remote working, and load-shedding can make it less viable for employees without generators or other forms of backup power.
Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka said load-shedding has a direct impact on people’s ability to work from home.
“If it continues during this tough period businesses will have no choice but to recall staff back to the office where there are generators,” she said.
This is very bad news for the country which is currently struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19 in business hubs like Gauteng and Cape Town.
Gauteng health department spokesperson Philani Mhlungu has warned that the healthcare system was under pressure in the province.
If people are forced to return to work because of load-shedding it is likely to result in an increased rate of infection and additional pressure on hospitals.
Eskom load-shedding announcement
— Eskom Hld SOC Ltd (@Eskom_SA) July 10, 2020
Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka comment
On the topic of @Eskom_SA load shedding. This has a direct impact on people’s ability to work from home. If it continues during this tough period businesses will have no choice but to recall staff back to the office where there are generators. Not great for social distancing.
— Magda Wierzycka (@Magda_Wierzycka) July 10, 2020