Eskom expects to move South Africa from stage 4 to stage 3 load-shedding on Thursday, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said during a live address.
Gordhan said his department met with Eskom’s leadership, who said that they expect around 2,000MW of generating capacity to come online overnight.
The power utility told the minister that during Thursday and Friday, another several thousand additional megawatts will return to service, allowing a downgrade to stage 2 load-shedding.
“Over the weekend—I’m told by the Eskom management—will stop,” Gordhan said.
Unless an unexpected event occurs, South Africa’s local government elections will be able to happen on Monday without load-shedding.
The counting of votes should also be able to happen without interruption as a result of rotating blackouts.
Gordhan said that he’s been assured by the Eskom board and management that it is unlikely for something to happen that would require more load-shedding from Monday.
“Eskom, and ourselves as government, are doing everything possible to ensure the elections are not disrupted in any way.”
Gordhan said that a number of contingency measures have also been put in place with the Independent Electoral Commission.
Earlier today, Eskom gave a one-hour warning that it would need to increase load-shedding from stage 2 to stage 4 — from 12:00 on Wednesday until 05:00 on Friday.
Load-shedding would then go back down to stage 2 until Saturday at 05:00.
The increase in load-shedding severity raised concerns that South Africa’s local government elections on Monday, 1 November, would face disruptions due to power cuts.
Eskom explained that the increase from stage 2 to stage 4 load-shedding was due to a further shortage of generation capacity.
“Over the past 24 hours, a unit each at Medupi, Kusile and Mata power stations tripped while a unit each at Lethabo and Arnot power stations were forced to shut down,” the power utility stated.
“This constrained the power system further requiring extensive use of emergency reserves and therefore, hampering the recovery of these reserves.”
Total breakdowns on Wednesday amounted to 14,957MW, while planned maintenance was 5,301MW of capacity.
Eskom assured that the implementation of Stage 4 load-shedding is no cause for alarm, as its power system remains effectively controlled.
Eskom said it anticipated that two generating units would return to service during the day.
In addition, Koeberg Unit 1 was expected to return to service today and begin ramping up to full output within 48 hours.