Eskom to implement Stage 4 of rolling blackouts

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Eskom says it will continue with Stage 3 rolling blackouts from midnight until 4pm when it will then ramp-up rolling blackouts to Stage 4 until midnight.

This system starts from midnight tonight and will continue until at least Thursday. Stage 3 will therefore continue today until midnight. The highly indebted power monopoly says it is still experiencing diesel constraints.

Eskom uses diesel in turbines that generate emergency power. Many units at its aging power stations also went offline in the last few weeks forcing Eskom to ramp up rolling blackouts to as high as Stage 6. Eskom says it will publish a rolling blackout update on Wednesday.

Stage 3 rolling blackouts to continue until Monday morning

Power utility Eskom is expected to lower rolling blackouts to Stage 3 until Monday morning. This comes after it ramped up rolling blackout stages to Stage 6 a week ago, costing the economy an estimated R4 billion a day.

Despite the expectation of lowered stages, the utility says the capacity constraints will persist for a while.

According to Eskom, this weekend’s blackouts were used to replenish the pumped storage dam levels, which were utilised extensively over the past week. In its last update, it said it’s experiencing constraints from its diesel suppliers that are affecting the availability of bulk diesel to the Ankerlig and Gourikwa Open Cycle Gas Turbines, which have a combined capacity of 2 000MW.

It warned that should these persist, higher stages of rolling blackouts may be required.

“A further reduction to Stage 3 will be implemented until 5am on Monday morning. The capacity constraints will continue throughout next week and current indications are that loadshedding will be implemented at Stage 3 for most of next week,” says Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha.

Meanwhile, according to reports, the Eskom board may be restructured this week following a cabinet meeting.

Energy crisis

Former President Thabo Mbeki has questioned why the energy crisis in the country is not being addressed effectively. He also added his voice to those asking if the answer doesn’t lie in placing engineers and economists in the leadership of Eskom.

Mbeki made the comments during his engagement with students and diplomats at Unisa earlier in the week.

“Why do we seem to be incapable-as a country in addressing this matter effectively?”

“Is it an issue that Pali Lehohla is raising? Let’s put engineers and economists as the leadership of Eskom, maybe that is the answer. But I’m saying it going to come from the kind of leadership that we need,” says Mbeki.

Agri SA has called on government to declare the agriculture industry an essential service to ensure the country’s farming operations and food supply chain are not disrupted during rolling blackouts.

The agricultural industry association says it’s approached Eskom for talks – warning that the current energy crisis may have implications for food security next year.

Video – The Watchdog | Rolling blackouts and the cost of electricity crisis in SA