South Africans have experienced more load shedding and dark days (and nights) in 2023 than in the past 10 years in total.
According to the latest Power Availability Statistics (PAS) compiled by independent energy analyst Pieter Jordaan, the country has so far this year experienced a combined total of 1,296 blackout hours.
This is equivalent to 54 full days of no power, making that nearly two full months without power.
To put it into perspective and understand the gravitas of the issue, from 2014 until 2022, South Africans experienced the equivalent of 53 days of blackout hours combined.
Jordaan’s data looks at load shedding in terms of blackout hours, which is the time we actually spend without any power within a load shedding window; therefore, around 1,300 hours have been spent in blackouts.
In July, DA Shadow Minister of Electricity Samantha Graham-Maré said load shedding is at an "unprecedented level, with only two days this year being load shedding free."
"The establishment of the National Energy Crisis Committee, coupled with the appointment of the Minister of Electricity and the drafting of an Energy Action Plan, should have already resulted in an improvement in the load shedding crippling this country. Instead, load shedding is at an unprecedented level, with only two days in this year being load shedding-free," said Graham-Maré.
At the time, the party noted that South Africans had spent 27% of this year without power. They also echoed the sentiment that, with no sign of load shedding ending, South Africans will have experienced more load shedding in 2023 than in the past 10 years in total.
The DA said the situation is not likely to improve in the foreseeable future as the country plunges into a deepening electricity crisis.
The Stage 16 load shedding worries
The collective anxiety over ‘Stage 16 load shedding’ has been mounting, but there is no cause for concern at this stage. Members of the public and other stakeholders have been invited to access the proposals, officially known as NRS 048-9 Edition 3, on the website and are free to comment on them until September 22.
Nersa’s proposals would see the system operator allowed to insist that power distributors drop their demand by between 5% and 80%, depending on the declared load shedding stage.
Each stage would reflect increments of 5% versus the demand, meaning that Stage 1 would cut off enough users to compensate for 5% of total demand, and Stage 16 would cut off enough users to compensate for 80%.
If (and this is a big if), Stage 16 load shedding were to be implemented, there would be 24 hours of rolling blackouts occurring in a 32-hour period.