From 'no winter load shedding' to Stage 3 load shedding: Eskom and the lies

JUNE 23, 2015

Failing to provide enough power for the economy is one thing, but Eskom seems to be failing as well when it comes to disclosing the truth about the power situation in the country – saying one thing and yet South Africans are experiencing the other on a daily basis.

Acting Eskom CEO, Brian Molefe, who is pleading with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for another tariff increase, is on record to have assured South Africans that the power utility would not load shed during the winter months.

His promises have failed to stand the test on several occasions since the onset of this year’s winter season.

Shockingly, this past Saturday, Eskom predicted that there would be no need load shedding but in the space of about 74 minutes, South Africans experienced from Stage 1 load shedding to Stage 2 to Stage 3 and then back again to Stage 2 - all in rapid succession.

According to Eskom’s schedules, Stage 3 Load shedding is meant to shed 3 000MW from the system in order to prevent a total grid shutdown.

1000MW is the equivalent of a full unit at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, or around two units at one of Eskom’s coal-fired base load power stations.

Which means that to go from a 1 000MW deficit to 3 000MW, means 2 000MW of generation capacity was lost within an hour on Saturday - around 1 000MW was then recovered within 30 minutes.

According to energy expert, Chris Yelland, who is also presenting at the NERSA public hearings on why Eskom should not be given another increase, Stage 3 load shedding on a Saturday winter night meant that there must be close on 12 500 MW of generation capacity down – roughly 30 % of the total power Eskom is able to generate.

The power utility said Saturday’s blackout was due to increased electricity demand and a shortage of generation capacity resulting from technical faults at some of our power station units.

More bad news

For more bad news, on Monday warned South Africans, spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said, “For the rest of the week we're likely to see a repeat of this until we have one unit of Medupi and one unit of Kusile Power Station up, unfortunately we will continue to have this vulnerability in the power systems.”

Could the CEO be the only person knowing what everyone else does not about our power situation? 

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