These two towns can’t be load-shed

A Sunday Times report has uncovered two towns in South Africa that have never experienced load-shedding.

Kleinzee and Koingnaas, situated in remote areas of the Northern Cape, have a combined population of under 1,000 and are yet to experience load-shedding because cutting their power could threaten the entire national grid.

According to the report, these towns have a “high voltage” connection because of their history as mining towns.

Should their power be cut, it could destabilise Eskom’s power grid.

Eskom reportedly confirmed this and described it as a “unique situation.”

In these towns, Eskom said its transmission division was experiencing “quality-of-supply issues due to the network being lightly loaded.”

“Load-shedding worsens the problems experienced on an already constrained network. Transmission is investigating possible solutions to resolve the issue,” said Eskom.

The power utility did not disclose why other similarly “lightly loaded” small towns in the area still received load-shedding.

Sheep in a kraal on a farm near Kleinzee, Namaqualand, West Coast, South Africa

Both towns used to be driven by De Beers’ mining interests until these operations were closed down.

The power demand of De Beers’ operations resulted in the mining company being made responsible by Eskom for these towns’ power supplies.

Once De Beers pulled its operations from these towns, it remained responsible for their power supply until it could transfer its obligations to the local government.

This proved to be an arduous process — Kleinzee has not yet been officially transferred to the Nama Khoi municipality, and Koingnaas was only transferred to the Kamiesberg Council in 2016 — many years after De Beer stopped its operations.

Load-shedding forecast

Eskom’s weekend load-shedding schedule indicates that South Africa will be under stage 3 load-shedding for the remainder of the weekend.

It also states that Stage 3 load-shedding will likely persist for the upcoming week — with an official statement expected later today.

Eskom said this weekend’s load-shedding has been necessary to replenish its pumped storage dam levels, which were used extensively over the past week.

It was also facing constraints regarding diesel supplies, which hamper the availability of bulk diesel at the Ankerlig and Gourikwa open cycle gas turbine power stations.

Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy

Energy minister Gwede Mantashe caused a stir last week when he argued that the global energy crisis is a cause behind load-shedding.

“When you explain the [energy] crisis to society, South Africans see themselves as an island,” Mantashe said in response to media questions.

“The energy crisis is a global phenomenon. South Africans don’t accept that. They think it’s a South African crisis.”

His statements are controversial because although the global energy crisis began late last year and was exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, South Africa has had load-shedding since 2007.

Since 2018, each year has seen a substantial increase in rotational power cuts — and 2022 is already worse than 2021.

Now read: Forgetful Mantashe blames global energy crisis for Eskom load-shedding

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These two towns can’t be load-shed