Stage 9 to stage 16 load-shedding explained

South African households without backup power can expect to be without electricity for between 56% and 100% of the time under stage 9 to stage 16 load-shedding.

The definitions of these higher load-shedding stages were approved and recently published by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) in the NRS 04809:2023 Edition 3.

This document sets out the Eskom System Operator’s code of practice for load reduction and system restoration practices, as well as critical load and essential load requirements.

Stage 8 load-shedding was the highest level of power cuts clearly defined under the second edition’s guidelines.

From stage 1 to stage 8 load-shedding, electricity distributors have to cut between 5% and 40% of their users’ regular demand.

Load-shedding at a higher level previously would have required electricity distributors to curb demand as instructed by Eskom.

Now that stage 9 to stage 16 load-shedding and load curtailment have official definitions, distributors and heavy energy users have clearly defined guidelines for higher levels of power cuts.

At stage 9, distributors must cut 45% of the demand of non-curtailed customers. This increases by 5% for each stage and goes up to 80% at stage 16.

However, even if a distributor can draw 20% of its regular demand at stage 16, that does not mean households will have power 20% of the time.

Maximum breaks of four hours

MyBroadband perused the NRS 04809:2023 Edition 3 annexure that shows an example of load-shedding schedules over a 32-hour period to explain the new schedules in a simple format.

Under stage 9 load-shedding, customers will mainly experience 4-hour load-shedding slots during any 32-hour period, with one 6-hour load-shedding slot.

Each stage of load-shedding adds two more hours of power cuts during a 32-hour cycle.

At stage 10, there will be two 4-hour and two 6-hour load-shedding slots. At stage 11, the 6-hour slots increase to three, with just one 4-hour slot.

At stage 12, the 4-hour slots are all replaced with 6-hour slots and the maximum length of breaks with power is reduced from four to two hours.

Stage 13 introduces a 14-hour load-shedding slot with two 6-hour slots. At stage 14, an additional 14-hour slot replaces the latter, eliminating the two-hour break.

Stage 15 will see customers having power for just two hours every 32-hour cycle.

Stage 16 will not have any breaks in load-shedding, with continuous power cuts implemented as long as it is in effect.

This is because distributors like municipalities have certain baseloads that need to be powered with the remaining 20% of capacity, including critical infrastructure like substations.

However, Nersa and Eskom have emphasised the likelihood that stage 16 load-shedding would be implemented was very low.

The table below provides an example of stage 9 to stage 16 load-shedding schedules over a 32-hour period and summarises how many hours of load-shedding users will experience during that time.

It should be noted that these times do not account for the additional 30 minutes that some municipalities include in their schedules to allow for manually switching power on and off at substations, where required.

Example of load-shedding schedule over 32-hour period
Starting time Stage 9 Stage 10 Stage 11 Stage 12 Stage 13 Stage 14 Stage 15 Stage 16
00:00 On On On On On On On Off
01:00 On On On On On On On Off
02:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
03:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
04:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
05:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
06:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
07:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
08:00 On On On On Off Off Off Off
09:00 On On On On Off Off Off Off
10:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
11:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
12:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
13:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
14:00 On On Off Off Off Off Off Off
15:00 On On Off Off Off Off Off Off
16:00 On On On On On On Off Off
17:00 On On On On On On Off Off
18:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
19:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
20:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
21:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
22:00 On Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
23:00 On Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
00:00 On On On On On Off Off Off
01:00 On On On On On Off Off Off
02:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
03:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
04:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
05:00 Off Off Off Off Off Off Off Off
06:00 On On On Off Off Off Off Off
07:00 On On On Off Off Off Off Off
Total load-shedding hours 18 hours 20 hours 22 hours 24 hours 26 hours 28 hours 30 hours 32 hours
Total hours with power 14 hours  12 hours 10 hours 8 hours 6 hours 4 hours 2 hours 0 hours
Percentage of time without power 56.25% 62.5% 68.75% 75.00% 81.25% 87.50% 93.75% 100%

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Stage 9 to stage 16 load-shedding explained