Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has said implementation of load shedding during the impending 21-day nationwide lockdown is unlikely.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, Mantashe said demand for electricity is likely to be low because of industrial shutdowns.
He said, “With lockdown, the demand will be very low. Therefore, it will be unlikely that we are going to be having load shedding because quite a number of industrial consumers will not be producing. Therefore, electricity is going to be available more apparently than normal [sic].”
Coal supply to Eskom a ‘requirement’
Nevertheless, Mantashe said Eskom should not be in a situation where it cannot supply electricity to the country.
He added that supply of coal to Eskom has been classified as a “requirement.” This means that mines supplying coal to Eskom will remain operational, but at reduced production levels.
The production and distribution of petroleum products, including fuel, paraffin and liquefied petroleum gas, have been classified among essential services, the Minister added.
“We are not expecting you to go to a pump station and not get petroleum. The opposite will happen – the demand for petroleum products is going to be low,” Mantashe said.
Eskom to attend to ‘critical services’
In a Twitter update, Eskom’s spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha also said, “As an essential and critical services supplier, @Eskom_SA does not expect any impediments to the production and supply of electricity during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Our suppliers, particularly coal miners and those supplying parts and maintenance at power stations, will operate.”
Meanwhile, Eskom’s Group Executive for distribution, Monde Bala, said in a statement on Wednesday that the power utility will only be attending to critical services during the lockdown period.
Bala said, “These services include all unplanned outages, emergencies, token-related queries and metre readings. Eskom will revert back to the full array of services once the lockdown period is officially over.”
Eskom has managed to avoid load shedding since 15 March, which was several days after implementing stage 4 following a fault at the Koeberg nuclear power station.
In its latest daily update on Tuesday, it said the power system remains “constrained and vulnerable.”