Load-shedding – Eskom uses its 3 strikes in one weekend

Last month, Eskom told South Africans they can expect only three days of stage 1 load-shedding this winter, which should occur late in July.

Two weeks into July, however, and Eskom has already implemented three days of stage 2 load-shedding due to unplanned breakdowns.

On Friday, Eskom announced that load-shedding was necessary due to an increase in plant breakdowns exceeding 3,000MW of capacity.

The stage-2 load-shedding continued on Saturday despite three of the six generation units contributing to the earlier breakdowns returning to service.

The extended load-shedding, Eskom said, was necessary to replenish the emergency generation reserves to better prepare for the coming week.

It added the delayed return to service of a generation unit at the Duvha power station has added significant pressure to the system.

On Saturday night, the company then announced that it will implement stage 2 load-shedding on Sunday, 12 July.

It added that progress had been made in restoring generation capacity at several power plants.

“Today the teams have successfully returned to service three generation units at the Arnot, Duvha, and Kendal power stations,” Eskom said on Saturday.

Eskom warned that while its teams were working “round the clock” to return units to service, the system will remain severely-constrained through the coming week.

Incorrect predictions

When Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said in May their outlook for the winter season shows little to no load-shedding expected after the lockdown, people were encouraged.

His prediction that if stage 1 and stage 2 load-shedding were required in winter these power cuts will probably only be implemented in the evening, was also welcomed.

Sceptics, like energy expert Ted Blom, said Eskom’s outlook was optimistic and did not account for aging infrastructure and a lack of maintenance.

Blom previously warned that increased electricity demand after the lockdown ends and unplanned breakdowns will see the return of load-shedding.

Load-shedding has now returned and Eskom’s prediction of only three days of level 1 load-shedding during winter proved incorrect.

This is, however, not the first time that Eskom was wrong about its ability to provide South Africa with a stable electricity supply.

Ramaphosa said in December last year that “from the 17th of December right through to the 13th of January we should not be in a position to have any form of load-shedding”.

However, load-shedding returned only four days into 2020 and made another unwelcome return on 8 January.

Ramaphosa’s no load-shedding promise was slated by people across South Africa after the return of blackouts earlier this year.

Questions were also raised about the information Ramaphosa received from Eskom about the stability of the power grid.

Return to load-shedding slated

Eskom’s return to load-shedding and telling South Africans to reduce power consumptions has been slated.

“This is when it hits home that South Africa is going backwards at a rapid pace,” said Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka.

“I am so tired of excuses, lack of coherent growth strategies, corrupt system, lack of inclusion of people who want to help,” she said.

IRR Chief of Staff John Endres said the load-shedding is part of the “rhythm of life in a slowly failing state” in South Africa.

“Something breaks, people adjust. Another thing breaks, people adjust again. Things keep breaking and people keep adjusting,” he said.

“We lose sight of how far things have already decayed and what lies ahead.”

No comment from Eskom

Eskom was asked whether its load-shedding outlook has now changed, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.

The company also did not say what South Africans can expect in terms of load-shedding for the rest of winter.

Now read: Eskom stage 2 load-shedding for Sunday

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Load-shedding – Eskom uses its 3 strikes in one weekend