Load-shedding just got worse — get ready for Stage 4

Eskom has announced that load-shedding will be increased to stage 4 on Wednesday afternoon as a result of three more units breaking down at its coal power stations.

“Due to additional breakdowns of a unit at Medupi and two units at Duvha Power Station, together with the high winter demand, Eskom regrets to inform the public that Stage 4 load-shedding will be implemented from 14:00 this afternoon until 22:00 tonight,” the utility said.

Eskom said this was necessary to ration the remaining emergency generation reserves, which have been depleted.

“These emergency reserves are required to respond to further emergencies in order to maintain the stability of the national grid,” the utility stated.

Breakdowns currently total 15,087MW of capacity, while planned maintenance was at 1,273MW of capacity, Eskom said.

Load-shedding will drop back down to stage 2 from 22:00 on Wednesday and continue until Sunday 22:00.

Eskom last implemented stage 4 load-shedding more than nine months ago – in September 2020.

The increase in load-shedding intensity comes after a report from Sunday newspaper Rapport warned that the frequency of scheduled power cuts may increase later in June.

Energy expert Chris Yelland explained that plans to take six generating units at its ageing coal power plants offline for planned maintenance would require stage 4 or stage 5 load-shedding be implemented.

Worryingly, however, Eskom’s current planned maintenance statistics don’t appear to include these units yet.

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Load-shedding just got worse — get ready for Stage 4