Load shedding: The good and the bad

2014-12-08 21:34

State power utility Eskom held a media briefing today as part of its regular power system status updates.

The country has experienced heavy load shedding since Thursday when there was a delay in the delivery of diesel, according to Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona.


Here are the top five good and bad things to come out of the briefing:

» Good

1. Matona said there would be no load-shedding on Christmas day and the close of the industrial sectors will help ease the power situation.

2. Some units from different power plants (about 14), which were taken off the grid because of technical problems, are slowly trickling back. That will ultimately add back 6037MW to the grid by December 20, making load-shedding less frequent.

3. Matona assured the nation that there will never be a national blackout and that more shedding would take place before a catastrophic event like that happened.

4. Eskom is unlikely to run out of diesel again as it is working on deals with PetroSA and other suppliers to secure the fuel up to the middle of January.

5. It will be easier to plan around power cuts, as Eskom has made it easier for direct customers to access load shedding schedules on its website, according to group executive Thava Govender. Matona said it was working with municipalities to correct inaccurate schedules.

» Bad

1. The week ahead will be very tight, with a medium risk of load shedding. There will be a higher risk on Thursday and Friday, and Eskom will provide daily updates in this regard. The probability of load shedding remains medium up to December 15 2014.

2. In February and March next year, the probability of load-shedding will be high, and Matona said this was “pretty concerning”. By that stage, the financial levers would become a major constraint, and Eskom is fast using up its budget, said Matona. In other words, Eskom needs more money to ease the current situation.

3. Bad news for Joburg residents: Eskom said customers, for operational and other reasons, prefer load shedding for different lengths of time – four hours for Johannesburg; three hours for Ekurhuleni and two hours in all other areas.

4. The number of breakdowns has increased since 2009, and according to Matona, 2268 MW of power is not available due to breakdowns. He said 64% of Eskom’s current installed base load capacity plants are past their midlife, requiring longer outages and extended restoration time than planned.

5. South Africa will have to wait a little longer for the Medupi power station to come on stream. The first unit from the plant, which would add 800MW to the grid, was meant to come online this month, but Matona said it will come online after December 24 2014 – without specifying a date.

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