Eskom’s rolling blackouts may worsen at short notice: Eskom

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Eskom says there is a possibility that the rolling blackouts may worsen at short notice, depending on the state of the plant and the availability of labour. Load shedding moved from Stage 2 to 4 on Friday and this is expected to persist until Wednesday.

Eskom blames the unprotected industrial action at various of its power stations for the move to Stage 4 load shedding as this has impacted planned maintenance and repairs.

On Friday, Eskom obtained an interdict against the strike by its employees who are considered essential service workers. The workers are demanding a 12% wage hike while Eskom says it can only afford an increase of 4.7%.

Eskom Spokesperson, Sikhonathi Mantshantsha says at some stations the full complement of workers has not reported for duty.

“As a result, unplanned generation losses have not been reduced as planned, which has compelled Eskom to continue taking precautionary measures to conserve generation capacity and safeguard plant from damage. There is a possibility that the stage of load shedding may have to change at short notice, depending on the state of the plant and the availability of labour,” says Mantshantsha.

Approximately 4 000 Mega Watts of generation capacity is at risk due to the illegal strike action.

Mantshantsha says this has necessitated the replenishment of emergency generation reserves to be able to react to unforeseen circumstances.

“Adequate emergency reserves are crucial to assist with the generation deficit while dealing with generating units that may trip owing to unlawful action, and to compensate for the inability to return generating units timeously to service. Protracted strike actions may lead to further damage and prolonged delays to returning units to service, which would compound an already constrained power system.”

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says Eskom is sacrificing workers’ wages for exorbitant primary energy and renewable energy contracts.

“Eskom has allocated outrageous increases for primary energy in the exact same period that workers have not received a meaningful increase. There has been a massive increase in primary energy between 2017 and 2021; the costs of primary energy have gone up from R85 billion to R116 billion. Eskom is sacrificing workers’ wages, sacrificing workers’ benefits, lying to the public, and claiming that workers’ demands are collapsing the entity when they are not,” explains Numsa spokesperson Phakamile-Hlubi Majola.

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