Load shedding will continue at Stage 2 on Friday 13 December as the president’s promise of an empowered Christmas period hangs in the balance.

Despite Eskom briefly decreasing the load shedding schedule to Stage 1 on Thursday night, the continuation of rational cuts presents a daunting prospect for South Africa. On Wednesday, Ramaphosa cut short his state visit to Egypt in order to convene a “crisis meeting” with the embattled power utility and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

While exactly what was said behind closed doors remains a mystery, Ramaphosa, during his address to the media, blamed to recent bout of load shedding – which is estimated to have cost the economy approximately R30-billion – on bad weather and sabotage.

Load shedding on
Friday 13 December 2019

Eskom, which has revealed that unplanned breakdowns, diesel shortages, flooding at power stations and “wet coal” are responsible for the blackouts, says that while the energy system remains constrained, progress is being made to stabilise the grid. This is in line with the president’s promises of ending load shedding before Christmas day.

Ramaphosa has given Eskom the deadline of 17 December to terminate load shedding. In an attempt to ensure stability of the festive period, Ramaphosa has also revoked leave due to Eskom executives. Gordhan, who is tasked with overseeing the Emergency Response Command Centre and providing updates on Eskom’s operational capacity, garnered condemnation when he downplayed the catastrophic arrival Stage 6 load shedding, which was implemented earlier this week.

Ramaphosa further vowed to keep the lights on until 13 January 2020, which is around the same time Andre de Ruyter will begin his work as Eskom’s new CEO.

When will load
shedding end?

Head of Generation at Eskom, Bheki Nxumalo, confirmed the
utility’s commitment to the deadlines outlined by the president. On Friday
morning, the utility announced that while it would be implementing Stage 2 load
shedding, diesel and water reserves were being replenished. Eskom said:

“Load shedding will be required all day to cater for further trips to create capacity to replenish water reserves for our pumped storage schemes to supplement capacity.

“We continue to use diesel for our open cycle gas turbines.”

Eskom also noted that the Emergency Response Command Centre was
hard at work, attempting to reduce unplanned breakdowns to 9 500MW over
the weekend, so that load shedding could be terminated either on or before
Tuesday 17 December.

The embattled utility said that it would release a report
for the long weekend’s operational outlook later on Friday.


Presh JM Reporter

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