Cape Town - South Africans have been sent into a panic by reports that Eskom is putting plans in place to implement Stage 5 and 6 power cuts. While the power utility has denied that plans are currently underway to increase the frequency of the outages that have severely impacted consumers since late last week, it did not rule out the possibility that it could happen in the near future.

What is exactly are Stage 5 and 6 power outages?

In order to adequately answer this, one needs to look at the stages which precede stage 5 and 6.

Stage 1 - Requires the least amount of load shedding (up to 1000 MW) and can be implemented 3 times over a 4-day period for two hours at a time, or 3 times over an 8-day period for 4 hours at a time.

Stage 2 - You will be scheduled for load shedding 6 times over a 4-day period for two hours at a time, or 6 times over an 8-day period for four hours at a time

Stage 3 - Will increase the frequency of Stage 2 by 50%. You will be scheduled for load shedding 9 times over a 4-day period for two hours at a time, or 9 times over an 8-day period for four hours at a time.

Stage 4 - You will be scheduled for load shedding 12 times over a 4-day period for two hours at a time, or 12 times over an 8-day period for four hours at a time.

If more load needs to be shed than has been scheduled in Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 then National Control will instruct additional, unscheduled load shedding. This means you may experience power outages outside of your scheduled times. 

Effectively, at stages 5 and 6 consumers could find themselves without power for 8 hours or more, but the information on Eskom's load shedding website does not furnish any details. This would also place considerable strain on electronic goods and appliances which "reset" every time the power is disconnected.

A good idea would be to invest in surge protector plugs and keep batteries on hand for burglar alarms and other appliances which can accommodate an alternative source of power.

Investing in a gas stove or gel fuel stove will go a long way to ensuring that meals can be prepared without electricity.

IOL