Eskom is promising the end of load-shedding after 13 years of power failures, but with a history of corruption, mismanagement, and lies it is hard to believe the power utility.
This year, South Africa has experienced the worst power outages in history, with regular stage 4 load-shedding occurring in recent weeks.
The latest bout of load-shedding comes after Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said in May they did not expect more than three days of stage 1 load-shedding this winter.
At the time energy advisor Ted Blom said Eskom’s optimism was misguided, warning that South Africans should prepare for the worst.
Eskom dismissed Blom’s warning at the time, but three months later he was proven right.
When asked about the misguided “three days of stage 1 load-shedding this winter” claim, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha tried to downplay power cuts this year.
Speaking in an SABC interview on Thursday 3 September, Mantshantsha said that “this is exactly day 14 of load-shedding this year”.
Mantshantsha later clarified that “the 14 days of load-shedding I was talking about were those which happened during the winter”.
He added that de Ruyter’s claims of only three days of load-shedding this winter were based on information they had at the time.
This, however, points to inaccurate information provided to De Ruyter and substantiates Blom’s claim that Eskom has underestimated problems at the company.
It also adds to the list of statements which have broken trust in the company’s promises around load-shedding.
We are seeing the end of load-shedding – Mantshantsha
In the same interview, the Eskom spokesperson said “we are seeing the end of load-shedding” after 13 years of power failures.
Mantshantsha referred to Deputy President David Mabuza’s recent statement that the introduction of the Medupi and Kusile power plants to the grid will help ease load-shedding.
Mabuza said that the latest round of load-shedding was due to maintenance challenges and an ageing fleet.
“Our people will understand that we are dealing with a very old fleet and from time to time we are dealing with operational problems,” Mabuza said.
He added that the introduction of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) will also help with the country’s power cuts.
This is not the first time South Africans have heard this promise. In fact, South Africans have been hearing the same promises since load-shedding started 13 years ago.
When power blackouts hit the country in 2007, Eskom said Medupi and Kusile would be finished by 2015 to resolve South Africa’s energy problems.
This did not happen. Deadline after deadline was missed and design faults prevented the power stations from producing their promised electricity output.
These problems are not stopping Eskom and the government from hanging their hat on these two power stations again to stop load-shedding.
To see why many South Africans distrust Eskom and the government’s “end to load-shedding” promises, here is a summary of what they have told the public in the past:
|Date||Who said it||What was said|
|November 2007||Eskom||Medupi and Kusile will be finished by 2015.|
|January 2009||Eskom CEO Jacob Moraga||Kusile will start producing power in 2013.|
|July 2013||Eskom CEO Brian Dames||No more load-shedding going forward.|
|March 2014||Minister Edna Molewa||Eskom assured the government that load-shedding was temporary.|
|December 2014||Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona||There is no power crisis at Eskom.|
|February 2015||DoE director Wolsey Barnard||The power crisis at Eskom will be resolved in 20 to 30 months.|
|May 2015||Eskom CEO Brian Molefe||There would be no load-shedding during the winter season.|
|September 2015||Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa||In two years all of these problems would be resolved.|
|May 2016||President Jacob Zuma||We will never have load-shedding again.|
|August 2016||Eskom CEO Brian Molefe||It will be very hard to go into load shedding.|
|April 2019||Minister Pravin Gordhan||There will be no load-shedding from today|
|December 2019||President Cyril Ramaphosa||There would be no load-shedding over the holiday season.|
|May 2020||Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter||Only 3 days of stage 1 load-shedding this winter.|
Things are set to get worse unless drastic action is taken
While Eskom and Mabuza are promising South Africans that load-shedding is set to end soon, experts are warning that things may get worse.
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) researchers said South Africa should brace itself for exponential increases to load-shedding until 2022 unless drastic action is taken.
“Not only will load-shedding continue over the next few years – it will get significantly worse,” they said.
Energy analyst Chris Yelland echoed these views, saying the country urgently needs 6,000MW of new generation capacity in the next two to three years.
He said unless South Africa launches courageous and bold decision policy initiatives, load-shedding is here to stay.
“The only way to stop load-shedding is to replace poor-performing coal-fired power stations with reliable and low-cost wind, solar PV, battery storage, and gas-to-power generation,” Yelland said.
He added that this new capacity procurement will not come from Eskom, which is why legislative and policy changes are needed.
Load-shedding this year
The table below gives an overview of load-shedding in 2020.
|Load-Shedding in 2020|