Eskom warns of ‘high likelihood’ of overnight load shedding

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Struggling state power utility Eskom has warned that there is a high likelihood of overnight load shedding.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Eskom said it had terminated stage 2 load shedding implemented between 01:00 and 06:00 on Wednesday.

However, it foresaw “a high likelihood of implementing stage 2 again this evening in order to replenish water resources for its pumped storage schemes and minimise the use of diesel at the open cycle gas turbines.”

Load shedding could come earlier in the day

The utility said while it had managed to replenish water levels overnight, it is currently using emergency resources to meet electricity demand during the day.

It added, “In the event that we lose other generation units and are unable to bring back those that were out for maintenance, load shedding may be implemented earlier in the day.”

South Africans experienced load shedding in the first week of January despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assurance that it would be held off until at least 13 January.

Eskom blamed it on a conveyor belt fault at the Medupi power station in addition to power plant breakdowns.

Unpredictable power system

The latest round of load shedding comes after Eskom said in an update on Tuesday that it did not expect to implement it.

It said in a second update that overnight load shedding was necessitated by the extensive use of emergency resources during the day because of the loss of additional generation capacity.

This unpredictability is underlined by the fact that planned and unplanned breakdowns have consistently remained high above 12,000MW of capacity over the festive season.

Load shedding during the day may be a near-certainty as from mid-January when demand is expected to increase.

Speaking to journalists in the Northern Cape on Tuesday, Ramaphosa pinned hopes on Eskom’s new CEO Andre de Ruyter and his team to address the crisis.

He said, “The new management that is gong to come in place is going to be largely focusing on those issues, and I know that as South Africans, we’re impatient. We want everything to have been fixed yesterday and on an ongoing basis, but it will be.”

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