Eskom’s woes add darkness to an already cold winter
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ENERGY experts have labelled Eskom’s move to advance the country’s load shedding status as “disastrous”.
In a statement, Eskom said that due to additional breakdowns of a unit at Medupi and two units at Duvha power station, together with the high winter demand, the country would be moved to stage 4 load shedding.
“Eskom regrets to inform the public that stage 4 load shedding will be implemented from 2pm this afternoon till 10 pm tonight.
“This is in order to retain the remaining emergency generation reserves, which have been depleted.
“These emergency reserves are required to respond to further emergencies, in order to maintain the stability of the national grid.
“Thereafter, stage 2 load shedding will be implemented as previously communicated,” read the statement.
Energy expert Ted Blom said that the country must brace itself for the worst, as the system is “very” vulnerable and could drop to level 6 or worse, given the prevailing weather and lack of solar energy.
“Since Eskom is not transparent, it is very difficult for outsiders to gauge the exact state of the generation system and, if one makes estimates, Eskom is very quick to make one out as a fool. But, given the tense labour/political climate, anything could happen – from a go-slow to deliberate actions – to exacerbate the situation.
“The message from (Megawatt peak) MWP in the past 18 months has been very aggressive, so I would not expect Eskom staff to have much sympathy at this stage
“This is disastrous for the country,” said Blom.
He said that cost per day, at level 4, was in excess of R5 billion.
The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the advancement to stage 4 load shedding was a “body-blow” to small businesses, as the notice was issued with little warning, resulting in doubling of the number of hours without power that they had under stage 2.
President of the Cape Chamber Jacques Moolman said: “The negative impacts will be immediate and, in some cases catastrophic. It is estimated that R1 billion is lost to economic productivity for each stage of load shedding.
“All doubts, about the serious nature of years of mismanagement within Eskom, have now evaporated.
“There can be no more excuses, nor will any future promises of recovery be believed. All those who can take steps to permanently sever their dependence, on what used to be the best electricity generating system in Africa, should do so. Those who brought Eskom to its knees have brought shame on the country and put thousands out of work.”
Vice-chair of the Long Street Association Grandt Mason said that load shedding is devastating for any business, but especially for the hospitality industry, which is such an important employer and has already had to suffer under the lockdown regulations.
“It is unacceptable that 13 years on, and after the wastage of hundreds of billions of rand, Medupi and Kusile power stations still don't work and probably never will operate to their design specifications. This has shown us that we need to look at alternatives and other mechanisms to take us off the national grid,” he said.