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Will Eskom be declared a state of disaster? Gordhan says no because load-shedding is a 'protective tool'

06 May 2022 - 12:00
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has poured cold water on calls to declare Eskom a state of disaster. 

This week in parliament the DA called for the declaration of a state of disaster at the power utility, saying doing so would allow provinces and municipalities that have resources and capacity to generate electricity from private players to do so with more speed and efficiency.

In his response, Gordhan said government has not considered declaring a state of disaster to respond to the challenges faced by Eskom. 

There was no need for the declaration because load-shedding was a tool to protect the system from total collapse.

“There should be a distinction between a state of disaster for ‘dramatic effect’ compared to a power system emergency which falls within the purview of the system’s operator. At all times the main imperative is to avoid the total collapse of the grid as occurred in California and more recently in Texas, US,” said Gordhan.

There are internal plans to manage the power system which will allow Eskom to implement up to stage 8 load-shedding to protect the grid from total collapse.

“Eskom manages the stability of the grid with load-shedding as a key mechanism to mitigate against collapse. There is no requirement for Eskom or government to declare such an emergency,” said Gordhan. 

What is stage 8 load-shedding?

Stage 8 load-shedding, which has not yet been introduced, would mean outages of up to 13 hours or six times a day, depending on the day’s schedule. 

This stage would shed 8,000MW from the grid. Stage 8 doubles the frequency of stage 4.

How long will load-shedding last during winter?

Eskom’s head of transmission Segomoco Scheppers last month said the power utility expects between 37 and 101 days of load-shedding during winter. 

However, this would depends on how much generation capacity Eskom lost during the period.

Eskom has to contain unplanned breakdowns below 12,500MW to avoid load-shedding. If unplanned breakdowns surpass the 12,500MW mark during winter, Eskom’s “extreme case” scenario of load-shedding will probably become a reality.


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