Loadshedding paints a bleak picture for South Africa’s future

Bellville. 9.12.19. Eskom introduced for the first time Stage 6 loadshedding as a result of wet coal and maintenance issues at the 37-year-old coal fired power stations. Picture Ian Landsberg

As many businesses reopened this week, Eskom implemented load shedding again.

On Sunday Eskom announced Stage 2 load shedding would continue until 5am on Monday morning. The embattled power supplier implemented Stage 2 load shedding from 10pm on Saturday following an “unanticipated conveyor belt failure at the Medupi power station”.

In an update on Sunday it said the conveyor belt had been repaired, but the incident and the loss of additional generation units caused it to deplete its emergency diesel and water storage levels. These needed to be restored.

“Our teams work tirelessly to return units back from planned and unplanned outages. Owing to inadequate maintenance over years, the system remains vulnerable to unplanned outages,” it said. “Load shedding is an essential measure to ensure the integrity of the grid is not compromised,” Eskom said.

However, it is still unclear whether Eskom will have to institute power cuts during the rest of this week.

In mid-December, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Eskom management had assured him that the utility “should not be in a position to have any form of load shedding” between December 17 and January 15, 2020.

Cape Chamber of Commerce president Geoff Jacobs said it was disappointing that Stage 2 load shedding had been implemented “especially given the assurance by the president and the fact that we are in a period where demand should be at its lowest”.

He added: “This is a clear indication that the situation is probably more dire than we are led to believe or the country being held to ransom by the inability of Eskom to provide electricity.”

He said the Chamber was particularly concerned about businesses resuming operations this week.

“This will increase electricity demand and we are not confident Eskom will provide. This is a time for the government to step in and to make sure that the constant interruptions come to an end,” Mr Jacobs said.

DA Public Enterprises spokesperson MP Ghaleb Cachalia said: “We were told leave had been cancelled for Eskom managers and executives. Despite these assurances South Africans are facing a rude introduction to the new year. To add insult to injury Eskom is also seeking to squeeze an additional R69 billion out of consumers, via a price hike – an application which Nersa (National Energy Regulator of SA) is opposing.”

Eskom recently announced a tariff increase application of 16.6%, as it would need R27 million from consumers this year. Its debt tops R400 billion.

– Cape Argus