Eskom says load-shedding must continue over the weekend as it suffers significant generation losses due to an ongoing illegal strike by several power plant workers.
In a media briefing on Friday morning, Eskom chief executive officer André De Ruyter said the utility had around 13,609MW of unplanned capacity losses and a further 3,104MW unavailable due to planned maintenance.
De Ruyter also said the unlawful strike had resulted in 2,709MW of generating capacity being unavailable, equal to around three stages of load-shedding.
The CEO said wage negotiations between Eskom and labour unions continued at 09:00 on Friday and were progressing well in a constructive spirit.
Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer explained the lack of operating personnel restricted Eskom to only gaining 306MW in generating capacity over the past few days.
Technicians returned several units at the Camden, Kendal, Tutuka, and Majuba power stations to service, but some had tripped again.
In addition, a 750MW unit at Medupi Power Station broke down on Friday morning.
Oberholzer warned that although the strike’s immediate impact was a generating capacity loss of 2,709MW, a further 2,600MW had been put at risk due to the strike’s prolonged nature.
Oberholzer said that Eskom’s emergency generation reserves were too low to lower the amount of load-shedding needed at this time.
Eskom wanted to use the weekend to recover water levels at its pumped storage dams and restock diesel supplies at its open-cycle gas turbines.
For this reason, it will continue load-shedding at stage 4 and stage 2 throughout Saturday and Sunday.
The load-shedding schedule for the weekend is summarised below:
- Friday, 1 July 2022, 05:00-16:00 — Stage 4
- Friday, 1 July 2022, 16:00-22:00 — Stage 6
- Friday, 1 July 2022, 22:00-00:00 — Stage 4
- Saturday, 2 July 2022, 00:00-07:00 — Stage 2
- Saturday, 2 July 2022, 07:00-00:00 — Stage 4
- Sunday, 3 July 2022, 00:00-07:00 — Stage 2
- Sunday, 3 July 2022, 07:00-00:00 — Stage 4
Eskom’s acting head of generation Rhulani Mathebula thanked some Eskom office workers who had switched out their laptops for their overalls to help on an operational level.
Mathebula said three of Eskom’s power stations were the worst affected — Matla, Hendrina, and Arnot — where about 90% of workers had not reported.
He said that some of the impacted employees were staying away due to threats of possible repercussions.
Oberholzer rubbished reports in the media speculating about the possibility of a total blackout, explaining the system operator was constantly monitoring the situation and managing demand to ensure the system remained stable.
Eskom system operator general manager Isabel Fick said the risk of stage 8 was “very, very low”, but Eskom could not entirely exclude the possibility based on the current generation situation.
Update — No more stage 6
At around 15:00 on Friday afternoon, Eskom said it would no longer implement stage 6 during the evening, but remain on stage 4 until 22:00.
After that, it will reduce load-shedding to stage 2 during the evenings until 07:00 in the morning.
Between 07:00 and 22:00 on Saturday and Sunday, it will implement stage 4 load-shedding again.
The updated schedule is summarised below:
- Friday, 1 July 2022, 05:00-22:00 — Stage 4
- Fri/Sat, 1–2 July 2022, 22:00-07:00 — Stage 2
- Saturday, 2 July 2022, 07:00-22:00 — Stage 4
- Sat/Sun, 2–3 July 2022, 22:00-07:00 — Stage 2
- Sunday, 3 July 2022, 07:00-22:00 — Stage 4
- Sun/Mon, 3–4 July 2022, 22:00-07:00 — Stage 2