Eskom ramps up rolling blackouts to Stage 6

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Eskom will implement Stage 6 load shedding during the night starting at 9 o’clock tonight until 5 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Stage 6 load shedding will then be implemented at 4pm to 5am until further notice.

Stage 4 load shedding will be implemented at 5am until 4pm daily until further notice.

Earlier, Energy analyst Lungile Mashele said that South Africa could be looking at higher stages of rolling blackouts as things got back to normal, following the festive season shutdown of industries.

This week President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a resolution adopted by the governing African National Congress at its national conference last week, that will see the energy department take over responsibility for overseeing Eskom.

The power utility has been facing power generating challenges since 2008, with 2022 being the worst year on record as far as rolling blackouts go.

Mashele said the outlook isn’t any better for this year.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the 205 days. Even if you look at Eskom’s estimates, they had told us that in winter already that at the worst case we are looking at about  100 days, and it was far more than that. We basically loadshed every other third day in 2022, and I certainly don’t think things are going to get better in 2023 either. We are already on Stage 4, people are only going back to work now, children are only going back to school. Industry is starting to open up. By next week, we will be looking back at where we were just before that shutdown in December.”

Energy department to oversee Eskom:

Meanwhile, the Ulundi municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal owes Eskom over a hundred million rand in unpaid electricity bills.

During the festive season, residents and businesses in the area were left in the dark after Eskom imposed load reduction power cuts due to the unpaid bill. But the municipality attributes the exorbitant bill to electricity theft and illegal connections.

Municipal manager Sandile Khomo says they have reached an agreement with Eskom where the power utility has agreed to cancel load reduction on the basis that the municipality withdraw its court bid.

“Ulundi had a load reduction of which we learnt while it was already implemented as there was no communication or notice from Eskom which prompted us to say, ‘let us seek an urgent interdict from court’ – just a day before we had a meeting with Eskom, which was facilitated by CoGTA where subsequently they eventually uplifted the load reduction. It’s a fact that we cannot deny that part of the reason is because of the community who are not paying for electricity who are connecting illegally.”

In December 2022, Eskom said the power utility will have to rely on increased support from the National Treasury in order to supplement non-payment by municipalities.

Eskom further reported a net loss of R12.3-billion for the year which ended 31 March 2022. The power utility said the financial loss is largely due to high finance costs and the usage of Open Cycle Gas Turbines to supplement generation capacity.