Stage 3 load shedding will continue until Monday 17 February
as a result of Eskom’s plant breakdowns and dire lack of diesel reserves.

Just days after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on issues facing the embattled state owned power producer, noting that South Africa’s energy crisis could not be fixed overnight, Eskom has been forced to institute rotational load shedding as a means of avoiding a nationwide blackout.

After a particularly grim 2019, which saw Eskom’s operational
capacity grind to a halt on more than one occasion, the new year has proven to
be even more disastrous, with load shedding schedules dominating most days of
the week. In the past week alone, South Africa was only spared three days of
load shedding; ironically, this brief reprieve coincided with Ramaphosa’s State
of the Nation Address (SONA).

Andre de Ruyter
teased at SONA as ‘Mr Load Shedding’

Andre de Ruyter, Eskom’s new CEO, who began his tenure in January, graced the carpet at SONA but was left red-faced when heckled by others in attendance. De Ruyter, who has warned South Africa to brace for 18 months of power disruptions while Eskom attends to its aging infrastructure, was called ‘Mr Load Shedding’ as he made his way into the halls of the National Assembly on Thursday evening.

On Friday night, Eskom announced that it would implement
Stage 2 load shedding, owing to a loss in generation capacity. On Saturday
morning, Eskom ramped it up to Stage 3, noting:

“Despite some units having returned to service last night, Stage 3 load shedding will be implemented from 09:00 today [Saturday] to accommodate the shortage of capacity and to replenish emergency reserves, until 05:00 on Monday [17 February].”

Eskom load shedding
on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 February

Eskom added that it had depleted its diesel reserves, used
to operate open cycle gas turbines which supplement power supply in times of constrained
capacity, and that ‘unplanned outages or breakdowns’ were hovering around 10 612MW.

The beleaguered utility, which has been highlighted as the
single greatest threat to South Africa’s economic prospects, apologised to
citizens for the ‘short notice’ and reaffirmed that load shedding was a ‘controlled
process’ intended to ensure optimal functionality of the grid during times of
severe pressure.

Eskom added that it would keep South Africans updated on the
relevant load shedding schedules should the grid experience any further
turbulence.

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Presh JM Reporter

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