Eskom: We may not have to institute stage 8 load shedding

Eskom acting chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises on Wednesday that the impression that stage 8 load shedding may occur in the immediate future was the result of a misunderstanding.

The power utility, which is battling coal stockpile shortages, recently expanded its load shedding scale from four stages to eight. Stage 8 allows for 8000 MW of the national load to be shed. 

Oberholzer said that, while the new stages were introduced to the metric of measuring the intensity of load shedding, this did not mean that stage 8 load shedding was imminent.

"Level one means relieving 1000 MW, level two for 2000 MW and so on. We communicated last week that this is how the levels work. There was eventually a communication that there was going to be level eight load shedding, which is simply not the case," said Oberholzer.

He told the committee that the latest instance of load shedding occurred due to factors brought about by hot weather conditions as well as water and diesel supply constraints.

"The system is under pressure and needs a lot of care. On Sunday there was enough capacity to avoid load shedding, but we had high temperatures which led to high use of air conditioners.

"While there was sufficient capacity with diesel, the high water use [meant] our dam levels were low, and we had diesel challenges," Oberholzer said.

He told the committee that there was no reason in the near future for load shedding to be implemented if supplies and consumption were kept in check.  

"The decision was made not to start the week with little diesel and low dam levels. We opted for load shedding level 1 at only 700 MW. We started this week. Today is Wednesday and [at] this point we don’t see a reason to have load shedding this week or in the foreseeable future," said Oberholzer.

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