Load shedding likely to get severe: Analyst

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Energy experts warn that load shedding could get more severe and Eskom has reiterated that the system is constrained and has urged customers to reduce their electricity use.

In December, the power utility implemented Stage 6 causing uproar and forcing President Cyril Ramaphosa to cut short a state visit to Egypt.

The power utility undertook to curb load shedding for the Christmas period, saying it will not load shed before January 13.

However, an Energy analyst at Mining and Energy Advisors Ted Blom says, “Stage 8 is when the power is off for roughly half of the day, in other words up to 12 hours of load shedding.”

Blom says, “The notice that was sent to the municipalities is a direct consequence of the legislation which requires Eskom to prepare for all types of outcomes. Eskom is still on the edge of a cliff, as soon as the unavailable units and unplanned outages exceed 9 500 megawatts; the risk of load shedding sparks up. This week Eskom is between 13 000 and 14 000 megawatts of broken capacity so load shedding going forward will increase and will become more and more severe.”

Tariff increase 

Eskom took a dispute with energy regulator Nersa to court on Wednesday, arguing that the regulator’s three-year tariff decision last year was flawed and threatened the power firm with financial disaster.

Eskom supplies more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity but struggles to keep the lights on and is dependent on government bailouts to stay solvent. It has asked the High Court for an order allowing it to impose a tariff increase of 16.6% from April 2020 and 16.7% from April 2021, according to an affidavit seen by Reuters.

Eskom argues that Nersa’s tariff decision for the 2019-22 financial years should be set aside because the regulator incorrectly treated R69 billion of state bailouts when calculating the amount of revenue Eskom should be allowed to recoup via tariffs.

Unbundling of Eskom 

The National Union of Mineworkers says it is planning a march to the ANC headquarters Luthuli House in Johannesburg sometime in March if its demands are not met.

On Wednesday, NUM and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa held a joint picket outside Eskom’s head office at Megawatt Park in Sunninghill.

The unions are against the planned unbundling of the power utility into three separate entities and the use of independent power producers’ contracts which have resulted in cost overruns.

The unions handed over a memorandum to Eskom management which among others demands that labour be represented on the Eskom board and executive in order to participate in the decision-making processes.

-Additional reporting by Reuters