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Longer blackouts more often: That's the reality if stage 6, 7 and 8 load-shedding kicks in

10 December 2019 - 14:08 By ERNEST MABUZA
Eskom announced stage 6 load-shedding for a short period on Monday.
Eskom announced stage 6 load-shedding for a short period on Monday.
Image: Eskom

If load-shedding stage 6 - or, even worst, stages 7 and 8 - become a reality, you can expect to be in the dark for longer periods or more often.

This is according to energy expect Chris Yelland, speaking to TimesLIVE on Tuesday after power utility Eskom introduced stage 6 rotational blackouts on Monday night for the first time ever.

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Under stage 4 - which has been a common shedding stage for South Africans - 4,000MW of power need to be shed from the grid at any one time. Under stage 6, this increases to 6,000MW, and stages 7 and 8 require 7,000MW and 8,000MW respectively be shed.

Asked, what this meant for consumers in terms of how many times they would be without power and for how long, Yelland said it was difficult to be precise because it would differ depending on where the person lived.

For example, customers in Johannesburg might be out for longer periods at a time (up to 6-hour blocks instead of the usual four hours), while those in eThekwini might be down for the usual two hours at a time, but more frequently than under stage 4.

"It varies based on the individual municipality and on Eskom - and I have no clarity on this matter yet.

"All I can said is that the higher the load-shedding stage, the greater the amount of load that has to be shed at any one time. What this means, essentially, for the customer is that they are going to be shed more often, and for a longer number of hours per day. And that's all one can say," he said.

Beyond the in-home darkness, Yelland said extended load-shedding would have other knock-on effects.

“This causes massive traffic problems. It causes systems to fail and causes huge losses for businesses,” Yelland said.

He said although many businesses had installed generators to lessen the effects of load-shedding, this came a large cost to businesses - without added benefit.

Yelland said this reflected in low growth, as shown in contraction of the economy in the first and third quarters of this year.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said stage 6 meant more frequent and longer power outages.

"Instead of four hours, we may go for six hours. It could mean load-shedding could occur more than once in a day whereas on stage 4 if customers are load-shed in the morning, they will be load-shed again only the next day," Mangena said.

* This story has been amended to correct a sentence that wrongly quoted Yelland as saying "stage 6 meant customers could be affected 18 times over four days for up to four hours at a time."