Eskom cracks the whip

Eskom has threatened to use its own teams to enforce rotational power cuts in municipalities that do not comply with its instructions to implement the necessary amount of load-shedding.

The warning shot came during an update on the state of the utility’s generation system on Wednesday afternoon.

Eskom group executive for distribution, Monde Bala, provided more details on the issue which Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter first highlighted on Tuesday.

De Ruyter blamed municipalities that had not played their role in implementing stage 2 load-shedding over the weekend for the upgrade to stage 4 at the start of the week.

“During stage 2 load-shedding [over the weekend], we saw a number of municipalities either not abiding by their obligations to implement load-shedding or implementing it only on a fractional basis of what their commitment should be.”

“This has put us in a position where instead of the roughly 2,000MW we expect [to shed] from stage 2 load-shedding that we had to deepen our load-shedding to stage 4,” he said.

In Eskom’s system status update on Wednesday afternoon, Bala said an investigation into these municipalities’ actions were ongoing.

Of the more than 200 municipalities in the country, 28 are licenced distributors, which means they implement load-shedding themselves.

Only two of these, eThekwini in Durban and Buffalo City in East London, fully complied with Eskom’s instructions on stage 2 load-shedding on Friday.

That leaves 26 municipalities—including major metros like Tshwane, Joburg, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, Mangaung, and Nelson Mandela Bay—that had not shed the amount of load they were supposed to.

Johannesburg Joburg skyline night

Bala said Eskom had invoked remedial actions to correct the situation.

“For starters, we’ve notified all the customers that did not fully comply. We’ve given them notice. Letters in this regard have been drafted and are currently being sent,” Bala said.

He added that Eskom had also reported the issue to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).

“We had a meeting with them this afternoon to share our concerns,” Bala said.

“This matter now lies in their purview, and their processes will need to kick in. It is their obligation to enforce in terms of the licence conditions.”

In addition, Bala said Eskom’s local teams had been activated.

They will ensure that if it did not receive the requisite drop in the load as dictated by the System Operator (Eskom), they would be switching the power off on behalf of those not giving Eskom their total load-shedding allocation.

Cape Town has reportedly disputed Eskom’s allegations that it did not comply with Stage 2 load-shedding, and Bala said they are engaging with the municipality on the matter.

Bala explained that they are not saying these municipalities are not implementing load-shedding at all, but rather that they are not implementing sufficient load-shedding as required to bring down demand and stabilise the grid.

Numerous MyBroadband forum members have claimed they are not being load-shed as indicated on their schedules following Eskom’s initial revelation about non-compliance.

Satellite photo of Pretoria at night

Bala added that a large portion of Eskom’s key industrial customers had also not complied according to their curtailment agreements.

The utility has agreements with several power-intensive customers such as mines and smelters to curtail their usage when requested. It then compensates them for any losses in production.

“45% of our key industrial customers that are in our curtailment programme did not fully meet the requirements. It was with dismay [we discovered] that some of them did not meet their requirements at all,” Bala said.

Eskom has a list of the guilty customers but said it was not in a position to name them.

“We are monitoring the situation, and we are quite comfortable with the interactions that we’ve had with them that this situation has been amicably resolved,” Bala stated.

He added that Eskom had the right to move these industrial customers out of the curtailment programme and into normal load-shedding, should they not reduce load as required.

De Ruyter also said the current outlook for a reduction in load-shedding to stage 2 at 05:00 on Friday morning and to suspend load-shedding entirely from 05:00 on Saturday remained.

Eskom has also committed to providing the media with more regular updates on the state of its system during daily virtual media briefings.

Now read: André de Ruyter’s day of reckoning has arrived

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Eskom cracks the whip