Eskom not counting its chickens

For the second time this week, Eskom has extended the suspension of load-shedding by an additional 24 hours.

This will be the sixth consecutive day the power utility suspended load-shedding. However, it is extending the suspension day by day, preparing South Africans for the eventuality that stage 1 power cuts could return at any moment.

Towards the end of last week, Eskom said it would only start implementing load-shedding at 16:00 on Monday, 23 October 2023.

Over the weekend, it extended this to Tuesday. However, yesterday, it pushed the reprieve another day to 16:00 on Wednesday, 25 October 2023.

In its latest statement on Wednesday afternoon, Eskom said it only plans to implement the rotational power cuts again at 16:00 on Thursday, 26 October 2023.

The utility said this was possible due to having adequate emergency generation reserves to make up for a “fairly constrained” generating fleet.

“The anticipated evening peak demand is 27,214MW,” Eskom said.

It is difficult to gauge whether this demand should be low enough without risking abruptly-implemented load-shedding, as the utility has not been posting its evening peak statistics on Twitter/X over the past few days.

In addition to not being able to see roughly how much excess capacity Eskom had over the recent evening peak periods, it also makes it difficult to establish whether it was running its expensive diesel-powered open-cycle gas turbines (OCTGs) to meet demand.

However, even if it was doing so, economists have calculated that the cost of one stage of load-shedding hurts the country more than the diesel needed to run the OCGTs.

Eskom appealed to the public to reduce demand between 17:00 and 21:00 by switching off geysers and pool pumps to ease pressure on the power system and continue suspending load-shedding.

Full work week without load-shedding on the cards

The return to service of two large generating units at the Kusile Power Station has drastically improved Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF), resulting in much-reduced load-shedding over the past few weeks.

Eskom’s repeated short-notice announcements suggest it is taking a cautiously optimistic approach.

If Eskom manages to suspend its planned evening load-shedding on Thursday, it will be one day closer to providing an entire work week without power cuts.

According to data tracked by The Outlier, the last time it was able to suspend load-shedding for this period was at the end of August 2022 and the beginning of September 2022.


Now read: Koeberg Power Station’s growing shutdown risk — Eskom running out of time

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Eskom not counting its chickens