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SA braces for possible full week of load-shedding — Here’s the difference between stages 3 and 4

17 May 2022 - 14:00
Load-shedding may continue the entire week, says Eskom. Stock photo.
Load-shedding may continue the entire week, says Eskom. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/rclassenlayouts

Eskom has warned of a full week of load-shedding, saying stage 4 may continue if the power utility fails to gather enough generation capacity to feed national peak demand.

On Monday the embattled power utility increased load-shedding to stage 4 after unit 2 at the Kusile Power Station tripped, taking 720MW of generating capacity with it. 

Eskom said it has 1,904MW on planned maintenance, while 17,255MW of capacity is unavailable due to breakdowns.

According to Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer, Eskom suffered at least eight major breakdowns at its power stations, worsening strain on the already fragile and constrained power system.

He said the expected return of some of those units to service this week may not be enough to suspend load-shedding.

“If we look at the week ahead, we are short of the generating capacity we need to supply the country’s demand. 

“It’s important to make the point that load-shedding may increase if there are additional breakdowns. The three units we expected to return to service have returned. However, because of unreliability and the unpredictability of our system, should something drastic happen we may be forced to increase the stage of load-shedding from 3 to 4,” he said.

What is the difference between stages 3 and stage 4? 

Stage 3 load-shedding means up to 3,000MW of capacity needs to be shed. Consumers can expect to be shed up to nine times over a four-day period for two hours at a time or nine times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.

Stage 4 load-shedding means up to 4,000MW of capacity needs to be shed. Consumers can expect to be shed up to 12 times over a four-day period for two hours at a time or 12 times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.

eThekwini’s exemption from load-shedding to change

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said the exemption from load-shedding for the eThekwini municipality could soon change as this was under review.

“The eThekwini municipality has almost recovered its operations in terms of distribution in the regions affected by the floods. It is not being load-shed but this will change soon and the teams, Eskom and eThekwini municipality, are reviewing the situation,” said Mantshantsha.

The municipality was exempted from load-shedding due to the floods that left thousands displaced and housed in community halls and churches.

In a statement, the municipality said it was not exempt from load-shedding. 

“Full automated load-shedding is not possible, but customers must remain prepared for load-shedding,” said the municipality.

It said due to many abnormal network configurations as a result of the flood disaster, customers may not be supplied in their usual load-shedding blocks.

“Please also note the stage of load-shedding in eThekwini may differ from the national stages. The power system is dynamic and eThekwini will respond accordingly to requests from Eskom for purposes of national grid stability,” it said. 

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