The phase 2 load shedding will be implemented between 12:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1, while Eskom reports serious constraints on the national electricity grid.
South Africans who hope to start the new month with less disruption – amid a five-month lockdown that has restricted movement and weakened economic growth – have been left embarrassed by the national electricity company in trouble, Eskom. The reopening of economic activities under the Level 2 lockdown was marred by Eskom’s inability to meet the country’s electricity demands.
The latest episode of load shedding comes at the most inopportune time for vulnerable South Africans, as extremely cold weather hits most areas at the end of winter. In addition, the cost of load shedding – estimated at billions of rand due to unserved energy – has further eroded opportunities for post-pandemic economic growth.
Stage 2 load shedding on Tuesday, September 1
On Tuesday morning, Eskom issued a statement announcing the return of the disruptive turnover cuts. According to the electricity supplier, an increase in demand associated with severe plant outages had pushed production capacity to the brink of collapse. Eskom said:
“Ten production units from seven power plants have suffered outages in the past 48 hours. A generator failed at the Arnot, Medupi, Lethabo and Matla plants, while two units at the Majuba, Camden and Tutuka plants also failed.
The unplanned outages represent a capacity of 11,665 MW, which is in addition to the 4,558 MW currently under scheduled maintenance. “
Eskom warned that if the situation deteriorated further, load shedding steps would be stepped up to alleviate a national blackout. Eskom urged South Africans to reduce their electricity consumption with immediate effect.
Illegal connections and load reduction
Tuesday’s load shedding comes amid Eskom controversy load reduction program, where areas – particularly in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga – are cut off from the grid for a few hours at a time. Eskom has defended the load reduction program, claiming the affected areas are guilty of overloading the network with illegal connections.
Residents complained about Eskom’s comprehensive approach, however, saying that while some residents or communities may seek to bypass public service, the load reduction has punished entire areas for the transgressions of a few.
Eskom initially planned only three days of “winter load shedding”; South Africa has since racked up nearly two weeks of helplessness since June.