Lights out! Brace yourselves for stage 4 load-shedding, possibly all week

11 February 2019 - 13:22 By Nico Gous
Eskom has spent more than R400bn building new power stations which are not delivering reliable, consistent output, says Eskom in an apology for load-shedding.
Eskom has spent more than R400bn building new power stations which are not delivering reliable, consistent output, says Eskom in an apology for load-shedding.
Image: 123rf.com/Prapan Ngawkeaw

Eskom is moving to stage 4 load-shedding after implementing stage 2 on Monday.

"Due to continued pressure on the national grid, Eskom will implement stage 4 load-shedding from 1pm today and is likely to continue until 10pm," the utility said.

"Since this morning we have unexpectedly lost six additional generating units, which has put additional strain on the system."

The power utility started with stage 2 cuts on Sunday, two months after the last round of power cuts hit the country. And the blackouts may continue during the week.

Eskom is in a deep financial and operational crisis. It is unable to service its R419bn debt from the revenue it earns. It is also straining to keep the lights on after multiple breakdowns of its old plants due to neglect.

The return of load shedding follows President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement in the state of the nation address on Thursday that Eskom will be remodelled and split into three state-owned entities dealing with generation, transmission and distribution.

There has also been a significant push-back from business and labour over Eskom's application for tariff increases for the next three years of 17.1%, 15.4% and 15.5%, respectively.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said in an interview on CapeTalk on Monday that it would be a "tough week for consumers".

"It’s entirely Eskom’s fault and we take responsibility and apologise. The prognosis is a steady improvement, but realistically I think for much of this week, we’re going to be load-shedding."

Etzinger said there were problems with the new power stations. "Eskom has spent more than R400bn building new power stations, but unfortunately those power stations are not delivering reliable, consistent output at the moment, which is a huge frustration to us."

He added that state capture had diverted resources from power generation.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) criticised Ramaphosa's announcement during his state of the nation address that the company is to be split.

Numsa says the move to three separate entities will lead to unaffordable electricity tariff hikes and potential job losses.

"This is nothing more than privatisation through the back door and we reject it," Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said in a statement. "Only an Eskom which is completely owned and controlled by the state is the best guarantee for cheap electricity."

He said, "The ANC and its cronies looted and destroyed Eskom and now they have identified privatisation as a convenient way to cover up for more than two decades of rampant mismanagement, looting and corruption."

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