Stage 4 load shedding will persist on Tuesday after serious
failings at Medupi power station forced Eskom to implement a Stage 6 schedule
on Monday night.
Eskom’s Stage 6 announcement did little to allay fears of a
complete electrical meltdown, despite the national power supplier assuring
South Africans that ‘all was under responsible control’. The fact that Stage 6
was a venture into the unknown – never before implemented nor experienced in
the utility’s history – made the prospect of protracted powerlessness that much
Stage 6 load shedding
causes South Africa to shudder
While City’s scrambled to ascertain timetables as darkness descended across most of the country, Eskom revealed that torrential downpours had led to severe technical failures at its beleaguered Medupi plant and that coal, in addition to being soaked by the rain, was struggling to make its way out of the mines and onto conveyor belts.
This, in turn, put immense strain on the electrical grid and Eskom’s generational capacity. The embattled state owned enterprise – which has been staring down the gauntlet of financial bankruptcy, saved only by government’s gratuitous bailouts – cut a further 6000 MW from the network.
To do this, Eskom doubled the frequency of Stage 3
rotational cuts, with a load shedding schedule of 18 times over a four-day
period for four hours at a time, or 18 times over an eight-day period for two
hours at a time.
Stage 4 load shedding
on Tuesday 10 December 2019
While the announcement of Stage 6 initially signalled the
worst – leading to panic, confusion and a rush to the stores to stock up on
candles and canned foods – on Tuesday morning, Eskom reverted back to the Stage
4 load shedding schedule, which is currently costing the South African economy
R4 billion per day. It’s estimated that Eskom’s recent failures will have cost
the economy in excess of R20 billion by the end of the week, after load
shedding restarted on Tuesday 3 December.
In light of furious reactions from politicians, members of the public, civil societies and businesses, Eskom apologised in a statement issued on Tuesday, saying:
“Technical teams worked around the clock and have resumed coal handling operations at Medupi Power Station. As a result, Stage 6 rotational load shedding was stopped. Eskom resumed Stage 4 load shedding from 22:00 [Monday] until 23:00 on Tuesday.
Eskom unreservedly apologises to all South Africans for the inconvenience during this difficult period.”
Eskom’s Acting Group Chief Executive, Jabu Mabuza, is
expected to release a detailed report on the utility’s operational standing.