Load-shedding: More power cuts ahead as Eskom announces stage 3

13 February 2019 - 06:56 By Nico Gous
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Load-shedding will continue on Wednesday as Eskom carries on with stage 3 power cuts.

“Due to the shortage of generating capacity, Eskom will continue to implement stage 3 load-shedding today, February 13 2019, from 8am until 11pm.

"Please switch off all non-essential appliances in order to reduce pressure on the national grid,” Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe tweeted on Wednesday morning.

Eskom said in a statement around midnight on Tuesday that power cuts will continue because of “a number of generating units that are out of service due to breakdowns”.

“Despite the return of these generating units as planned and some replenishment of diesel supplies, the water and diesel emergency reserves are still very low and we remain concerned about the risk to our operations as a result of Wednesday’s planned strike action by (trade union) Cosatu.”

Cosatu was on Wednesday set to embark on a strike that it hopes will bring all nine provinces to a standstill.

Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the central message of the strike was to highlight the fight against job losses in the public and private sectors. Pamla said thousands of workers were expected to strike.

With an ageing fleet, and financial and staffing constraints, power utility Eskom is far from escaping its current crisis.

This is according to Eskom's demand management senior general manager Andrew Etzinger. He was speaking after the power utility implemented unprecedented stage 4 rotational power cuts on Monday, and then stage 3 power cuts from Tuesday.

“The root cause of the current situation is the exceptionally hard running (in the red zone) of Eskom's power stations over more than a decade, but particularly during and in the run-up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, to avoid load-shedding. This was due to the late decision to allow Eskom to build new plants,” Etzinger said.

“This, together with financial constraints, has meant that many upgrades, known as 'mid-life refurbishment', could not be implemented on Eskom's ageing fleet. More than half the stations are more than 37 years old.”

Load-shedding, last seen in SA in December, was implemented on Sunday, starting with stage 2. This was upgraded to stage 4 on Monday and reduced to stage 3 from Tuesday: 3,000MW of electricity must be cut from the grid under stage 3, and 4,000MW under stage 4.

“The resultant technical issues are compounded by staffing constraints in terms of both skills and experience and this, together with a stressed and demoralised workforce, has contributed to trips related to human error,” Etzinger said.

According to Eskom’s schedule interpretation website, stage 3 increases the frequency of stage 2 by 50%. This means affected areas will be scheduled for load-shedding nine times over four days for two hours at a time, or nine times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.

SA has suffered yet another day of consecutive power cuts caused by major problems at the main energy supplier Eskom. The government has only recently announced plans to split up the state-owned entity, but potential job cuts has made that unpopular with unions.

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