More load shedding expected, possibly into the weekend

Eskom announced last week that it was planning to implement load shedding until 6 o’ clock morning.
Consumers should brace themselves for more load shedding in the next few days. Eskom on Wednesday night announced that it was extending Stage 2 rotational load shedding to Friday and possibly into the weekend.

The power utility announced last week that it was planning to implement load shedding until 6 o’ clock on Thursday morning. However, Eskom spokesperson, Sikonathi Mantshantsha says a shortage of capacity and a high demand for electricity has prompted them to extend the black outs.

“Load shedding will continue through Thursday and Friday. The past two days, we have had much higher demand than we previously forecast. We have had significantly higher demand than expected. There is demand for an additional 2000MWs of capacity today and yesterday, hence we are having to continue with load shedding into Friday with a high probability of doing so throughout the weekend.”

Meanwhile, Labour Federation Cosatu says its proposal that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and local development finance institutions help to lower Eskom debt by around R250 billion, aims to avert the collapse of the power utility. Cosatu says President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan were “favourably disposed” to the proposal and have indicated that it is being taken seriously.

However many view this proposal as a way of using workers’ pensions to bail out Eskom. Cosatu’s social policy coordinator, Lebogang Malaisi, says the collapse of Eskom would negatively affect the country’s economy.

Recently Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter described load shedding as unavoidable, reiterating that the system remains constrained. Speaking at a media briefing at Megwatt Park in Johannesburg last week, de Ruyter said the decision to impose load shedding on South Africans is regrettable but necessary.

“We are extremely scrupulous when it comes to the imposition of load shedding. It is not a decision that we take lightly or easily. I am personally involved in every decision to impose load shedding and it is very regrettable for us to have to do this to South Africa. But we cannot avoid it given the state of the system right now. The system is constrained, unreliable and unpredictable. It is prone to unplanned outages and breakdowns, and it causes us to have to burn diesel on our open-cycle gas turbines, which is an expensive way of generating electricity.”

De Ruyter further warned of the likelihood of more load shedding in the future as the power utility works to fix the system and perform scheduled maintenance.

“In the past, we have neglected to perform scheduled maintenance that is required and those legacies are clearly now coming home and causing us to have unreliable equipment. This will result in the fact that, or cause us to, have an increased probability of load shedding over the medium term as we fix the system and this is going to be something that is very carefully planned and we are going to develop a fully-fledged plan and part of that plan is also to make sure that we are able to buy in electricity. We will also increase our demand management efforts,” De Ruyter said.