U-turn: City Power says it will implement load shedding to protect the grid from 'total collapse'

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  • City Power has agreed to implement load shedding among its customers.
  • On Sunday, the Johannesburg municipal power utility refused to go ahead with load shedding because it believed a new deal with a private power station should supply enough additional electricity to shield it from Stage 2 load shedding. 
  • However, City Power on Monday agreed to load shedding "to save the national grid from total collapse".

After initially refusing, City Power has agreed to implement load shedding among its customers "to save the national grid from total collapse".

On Sunday, the Johannesburg municipal power utility announced that it won't implement load shedding among its customers.

It believes that a deal struck to get an additional 220 MW in electricity from the privately owned Kelvin power station should shield its customers from Stage 1 and 2 load shedding.

But on Monday, Eskom said City Power agreed to implement load shedding after all.  

"City Power will follow and implement the directive of the system operator (Eskom), and implement load shedding on its customers in the City of Johannesburg as required. The collective understanding by both entities is to protect the national power grid while reducing the impact of load shedding," Eskom said in a statement.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said they met Eskom on Sunday, and the state-owned national power utility "presented a valid case why the city should comply and assist in their capacity challenges which forces them to load shed." 

"We have agreed that for now, in the national interest, we will load shed while we explore technical possibilities that will see City of Johannesburg fully or partially excluded from load shedding in future," Mangena said. 

Around half of Eskom's power capacity is currently offline after a number of power stations suffered breakdowns over the past week. On Sunday morning, Koeberg Unit 1 tripped as well. Eskom said this was due to a fault on a feed-water pump.

Once an investigation into the feedwater pump fault is concluded, Eskom will return the unit to service. It is expected to be during next week. 

Over the past week there have been breakdowns and trips at Tutuka, Kriel, Hendrina, Kusile, Arnot and Kendal power stations.

Eskom said on Monday that its technical team will work with City Power to consider the technical aspects of the Kelvin Power Station and verify the additional capacity that can be added to the national grid.

"The teams will also explore technical possibilities that may see City of Johannesburg partially shielded from load shedding in future."

City Power supplies electricity to 80% of the city, a City of Johannesburg spokesperson told Fin24. But most residents in Soweto, Sandton, Diepsloot, Ivory Park and Orange Farm still get their power directly from Eskom, and will be hit by load shedding.

South Africa is currently experiencing Stage 2 load shedding, which will resume at 21:00 on Monday until 05:00 on Tuesday. In addition, more Stage 2 load shedding is planned from 21:00 on Tuesday to 05:00 on Wednesday.

In a statement on Saturday night, Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Moerane said the City "rejects" the latest round of load shedding, and threatened Eskom with legal action.

Moerane said City Power had written a letter to Eskom to notify the national power utility of the added capacity from the Kelvin power station.

"When the City first reached out to Eskom to indicate our additional supply capacity, we were asked for proof in this regard, which we accordingly presented," he added, saying it never heard back from Eskom.

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