loadshedding south africa power cuts electricity eskom
Load shedding to continue for the rest of the week Photo: Scop.io by Sakhile Mthabela

Eskom has announced that “regretfully” Stage 2 loadshedding – which is just a pretty word for rolling power cuts – will continue throughout the week ahead from 05:00 on Monday until 05:00 on Saturday. Since the power system remains “volatile and unpredictable”, Eskom cautioned that “higher stages of loadshedding may be required” (as happened last week when Stage 4 was implemented).

Eskom blamed the latest electricity cuts on unexpected events over the past couple of days including a major incident in Zambia on Saturday.

Eskom said on Sunday afternoon: “Regretfully, due to the ongoing insufficient generation capacity and the inability to replenish emergency reserves over this weekend, Stage 2 loadshedding will continue throughout next week from 05h00 on Monday 8 November until 05h00 on Saturday 13 November.”

The power utility said that despite the recent implementation of Stage 2 load-shedding, events over the past two days have “required extensive use of emergency generating reserves, hampering the recovery of the dam levels at the pumped storage power stations, and depleting already low diesel levels.”

According to Eskom, there was a “major incident” in Zambia yesterday (6 Nov) which affected the entire Southern African Power Pool. “During this incident the imported power from Cahora Bassa reduced by 1,000 MW while a Tutuka generator also tripped. Furthermore, a unit at Tutuka power station was forced to shut down while there were further delays in returning a unit each at Lethabo and Majuba power stations,” said Eskom.

That wasn’t all.

Today, Sunday 7 November, a unit each at Medupi and Matla power stations also tripped. “The high usage of OCGTs over the past two weeks has resulted in limited diesel stock being available,” said Eskom.

On the bright side, bulk diesel supply for the OCGT power stations is expected in mid-November.

Why does South Africa have so many power cuts?

In one word: corruption. According to a recent episode of Carte Blanche: “The biggest reason for constant #loadshedding is the misappropriation of funds that were earmarked for maintenance and expansion at Eskom.” (You can watch this episode of Carte Blanche on DStv catch-up if you’re in SA, or on Showmax International if you’re abroad in most countries.)

The effect of power cuts on South Africans

Economist Mike Schussler told Carte Blanche: “The power supply in South Africa is probably the biggest reason why we have a 34.4 % unemployment rate… Millions more people would have jobs today if we didn’t have the last 14 years of power problems. That is a fact.”

He said the power cuts are a big deterrent to investors (both local and foreign) with the country losing up to R600-million in the economy per day with Stage 1 power cuts, and almost R2-billion loss daily with Stage 4.

The latest status quo according to Eskom

Eskom said total breakdowns currently amount to 16,693MW while planned maintenance is 5,769MW of capacity. Eskom teams successfully returned two of the three generators at Kendal Power Station following the shut down on Friday due to coal restraints.

A unit each at Lethabo and Majuba power station was returned to service from boiler tube leak repairs. A total of 12 generating units with a combined capacity of 5,271MW are expected to return to service during the week.

“We remind customers that loadshedding is implemented as a last resort to maintain the stability of the power system regardless of the stage of loadshedding,” Eskom said in a media statement, before again apologising for the ‘inconvenience’ and requesting that South Africans reduce their usage of electricity.