Stage 5 load shedding will continue through the weekend

Utility Eskom has announced that Stage 5 load shedding will continue through the weekend.

Rolling Blackouts will remain on the Stage 5 schedule until 05:00 Saturday morning, with further updates expected on Friday (September 23).

The group previously expected Thursday’s load shedding to ease; however, the ongoing scarcity has prevented this.

Earlier Thursday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said power cuts should ease in the coming days and the country’s electricity supply will continue to improve in the medium term as new investments strengthen power generation.

Speaking to Bloomberg, the minister said that “we will have load shedding in South Africa for a while (but) not on the scale that we have seen in the recent past”.

Load shedding escalated to level 6 last Sunday as Eskom struggled to keep power generation units running.

Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprises have agreed to urgently procure power on the open market from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to address energy shortages.

This has the potential to reach 1,000 MW – but this is not immediately available as IPPs need to ensure their generation capacity is adequate.

In addition, Eskom is speaking to local authorities to address infrastructure disruptions and issues such as street lights being on during the day. Industry is also being spoken to to see where further cuts can be made.

Waste, such as lighting office buildings at night, can be addressed. At the same time, measures such as starting ventilation and air conditioning later in the morning and ending earlier in the evening can also help to save electricity.

Gordhan said he awaits a government initiative to buy more electricity from private renewable energy producers in a bid to stabilize energy supplies in the longer term. He said there was still a “huge appetite” to invest despite program delays.

Other initiatives have been taken to improve Eskom’s performance, including reinstating experienced employees who work there and increasing the maintenance budget.

The group recently released its load shedding forecast for the rest of the year, noting that it needs to keep unplanned outages below 13,000MW to minimize ongoing power outages.

In a more severe load shedding scenario, if outages remain above 14,500 MW, Level 2 load shedding will be common for the foreseeable future. If the utility cannot keep outages below 16,000 MW, load shedding becomes standard at higher tiers.

Read: Gordhan says load shedding will ease