Stage 2 load shedding returns as winter demand strains Eskom’s infrastructure

When the country emerged from Level Four Lockdown, factories and industry scrambled to make up for lost production time. It’s probably no coincidence that there is a distinctive layer of smog over our industrial areas. This – coupled with the need to plug in heaters as temperatures continue to drop – has put a severe strain on Eskom’s already overburdened infrastructure. 

Eskom has released a statement saying that stage 2 load shedding will be implemented once again, according to The Citizen. “While we appreciate it is cold, we urge the public to assist by switching off heating appliances, geysers and other appliances in order to alleviate the pressure on the system.” With generation units at Medupi and Kusile power stations tripping, the capacity has been strained even further. “This adds to the two delayed generation units at the Tutuka power station and one at Kendal.”

According to Mervin Charles, “[l]ast week, Eskom announced that after a tripped unit at Medupi power station was restored to operation, one unit at Tutuka power station was yet to be restored as another unit at the same station went down. A third generation unit also tripped at Kendal power station.” This is potentially good news if you’re in Cape Town, but not so much for the rest of the country. Particularly when Eskom’s Sikonathi Mantshantsha says: “We still have a generation unit out at the Medupi and Kriel power stations. We urge the people of South Africa to help reduce demand.” Given that the country is currently experiencing a cold front and deprived of other forms of entertainment under the new lockdown regulations, it seems a big ask.

The Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyet, reported: “If I had a magic wand to wave to fix the system, I would have waved it, but I can’t catch up on 13 years of load shedding in six months’ time. … What we have now seen due to the cold winter is that peak demand is exceeding what we had anticipated even prior to lockdown. The cold weather has certainly played a role in putting additional stress on the system.”

EWN reports that “[u]nit two of the Koeberg Power Station has now been synchronised with the rest of the grid but it’s only producing about 700 megawatts.” While this bodes ill for a break from load shedding, all we can advise is: do what you can to keep warm without driving up your energy bill. Check out our handy tips here!

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