Eskom warns of possible load-shedding in winter months

With winter fast approaching, Eskom is warning people across South Africa that there is a high risk of load-shedding due to breakdowns at several power stations and constant power trips at Medupi and Tutuka.

Eksom’s chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer gave the warning on Wednesday, a day after the parastatal said it had no choice but to implement stage 2 rolling blackouts until 5am next Monday.

“We are working hard to restore all units but our demand is higher than our supply, which we have seen at the start of May due to colder weather conditions,” said Oberholzer.

He said at the peak hours of 6am and 6pm, large amounts of electricity were consumed, resulting in a shortfall of 2000 megawatts daily.

“We need to make use of the units we have and maintain them because we do not have the luxury to repair this because of the high demand,” Oberholzer said.

Compared with last year, the number of load-shedding days has decreased by four days in 2022.

“Last year we had 29 days of load-shedding. Now at the same time this year, there were 25;: two days at stage one, 17 at stage two, two days at stage three, with an alarming four days at stage four.”

The power utility has also sounded the alarm about an increase in vandalism at its sites, which is costing it billions of rands.

The remote sites are often vandalised to a state of total disrepair, Eskom group security acting general manager Karen Pillay said. 

“Groups that steal the cables present themselves heavily armed and they are properly organised. They [remote sites] also more vulnerable when there is power failure,” she said.

Eskom has since collaborated with Telkom, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and Transnet to combat cable theft. Law-enforcement agencies have also been brought on board to bring justice to those who commit this crime, Pillay said.

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said it was working to return broken-down units to service, but could not promise that load-shedding would end sooner than next Monday.

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