Load shedding to end on Thursday, but ‘significant risk’ of further rolling blackouts

Load shedding will be suspended from 05:00 on Thursday morning, Eskom has said.

In a voice note issued on Wednesday afternoon, spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said Eskom had conducted repairs to some generating units.

However, while emergency reserves had been replenished, the power utility was still relying on these, he added. A “significant risk” still remains of load shedding, should further generation capacity be lost, he said. 

What is load shedding?

As South Africa’s primary electricity supplier, Eskom’s mandate is to ensure security of supply to service the South African economy and society.

Eskom therefore generates, transports and distributes electricity – and this is managed predominantly by Eskom for the entire country; however, Eskom only directly supplies more than 6 million households which means that most of us are supplied by municipalities.

At all times there must be sufficient supply to meet demand, however electricity demand is not constant because of:

  • peak periods when demand is higher
  • and continuous growth in the number of customers requiring electricity services.

This means that the power system requires constant and prudent management of supply to meet demand but, today, Eskom faces the challenge of a constrained power system that will affect us until substantial new power capacity is available. In the meantime, to meet demand, our older power stations and infrastructure are being used to full capacity. In addition, routine and necessary maintenance of plant and infrastructure is carefully scheduled to limit compromising supply capacity during periods of high demand. We have also strengthened the distribution network to reduce the incidence of localised outages when the power trips because of overload in local areas such as suburbs.

Localised outages should not be confused with load shedding. Local outages can occur when there is either a technical fault in the transmission or distribution network. Outages can also occur when electricity equipment has been tampered with due to theft of cables or when there is an overload of the local system because of irregular high usage, caused by electricity theft or normal faults.

Load shedding is a controlled process that responds to unplanned events in order to protect the electricity power system from a total blackout. While we generally use the word blackout loosely to mean “no lights” in our local area, a country-wide blackout has much more serious consequences. Blackouts occur when there is too much electricity demand and too little supply, bringing the power system into an imbalance and consequently tripping the power system in its entirety.

Many countries and cities in other parts of the world have experienced complete blackouts. To re-start their system, these countries have been able to tap into a power system from neighbouring city or country, which can take up to a few hours or days. Unfortunately in South Africa, we have to rely on ourselves to start the system from scratch – energising one power plant at a time and one section of the country at a time. In the event of a Blackout in South Africa, it could take up to two weeks to restore full power, which would have a severe impact on our country! This is why we use load shedding to manage our power system and protect it from such an event.

Eskom’s Load Shedding Protocols

Keeping the power system balanced is critical to prevent a nation-wide blackout, and so when the national electricity grid is under pressure, Eskom must reduce demand, as agreed with the National Energy Regulator (NERSA), and therefore implements a process of Load Reduction.

load Reduction has two components:

  1. Load Curtailment. Our agreement with some of our large industrial customers means we can instruct them to reduce electricity consumption in order to balance the system. Some customers are able to reduce their load by up to 20%, significantly easing capacity on the grid; but it takes a minimum of 2 hours to implement.
  2. Load Shedding. If, after Load Curtailment, the demand on the system is still greater than available supply, we have to implement a process of load shedding in order to prevent an imbalance and subsequent blackout. Load shedding will also be implemented if there is insufficient time to request load curtailment.

Load shedding status

We are currently LOAD SHEDDING in STAGE 2 due to high demand or urgent

Stay Informed

To be prepared, is important for every customer to know the answers to 3 important questions at all times:

1. When it is likely that load shedding will next take place?

The outlook for the country’s power system can be monitored in the following ways:

  • Notices on the Eskom website, www.eskom.co.za
  • Eskom App “MyEskom” – free download from apple, windows mobile and android
  • Eskom on Facebook and twitter
  • Eskom’s Bi-weekly Power Bulletin information notices
  • Information distributed to the local media
  • Eskom’s Quarterly State of the Power System updates (for Media)
  • Ongoing energy efficiency and loss protection programmes – most notably 49M, Integrated Demand Management (IDM), and Operation Khanyisa.
  • Third party Apps available for Apple and Android

2. Is load shedding happening in the country today? And if, so, at what Stage?

The status of the power system can be monitored and notice of load shedding will be given in the following ways:

  • In the media (internet news sites, national, regional and local radio stations, and the print media)
  • Through social media platforms (Eskom on Twitter and Facebook)
  • Notices on the Eskom website www.eskom.co.za
  • MyEskom app
  • Third party Apps

3. Am I scheduled to be affected by today, and if so, what Stage and time will I be impacted?

Load shedding schedules can be accessed as follows:

  • Eskom customers:
    • Load shedding schedules on the Eskom website, www.eskom.co.za
    • Calling the Eskom Contact Centre on 08 600 ESKOM (086 003 7566)
    • MyEskom app
    • Third party Apps
  • Municipal customers:
    • Please obtain the information from your municipality
    • Most municipalities publish their schedules on their web sites
    • Information that is supplied by the municipalities is also published on the Eskom web site www.eskom.co.za
    • Third party Apps

It is strongly recommended that customers should check their schedules frequently, because the schedules are altered from time to time. It is also recommended that you print or make a note of your schedule information and keep a copy available.

maintenance being performed at certain power stations. To determine the time/s that you will be affected, please view the Schedule for your area.

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