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EXPLAINED: Eskom denies plans to implement Stage 5 and 6

Mar 20, 2019
EXPLAINED: Eskom denies plans to implement Stage 5 and 6

Port Elizabeth - Power utility, Eskom, on Tuesday was forced to douse some fires following a media briefing by Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and Eskom Board Chairperson, Jabu Mabuza, where it emerged that load shedding -  as a contingency measure to prevent a national blackout, does not end at Stage 4, but there existed a Stage 5 to Stage 8.

This was not lost on many South Africans frustrated at how Eskom even reached Stage 4 load shedding, which it has implemented for five consecutive days on Wednesday.

Referring to the media briefing, Eskom posted on its Twitter page: "During the media briefing today on Eskom load shedding, a question was asked, 'What will happen beyond stage 4 load shedding?' The response was that additional stages are in place as a contingency measure to ensure the operability and integrity of the power system (i.e. stages 5 - 8)."

Consequently, Stage 5 and 6 began trending on Twitter.

However, Eskom said that South Africans had misunderstood what was meant by its response to what will happen after Stage 4.

 

"The response was intended to indicate that Eskom will remain in control of the system through these additional contingency schedules,” it explained.

Eskom will not implement Stage 5 and 6

Eskom, thus, denied reports that it is planning to implement Stage 5 and 6 - at least officially.

It said further said that scheduled load shedding allows critical loads such as hospitals and deep level mines to be managed and allow customers in general to know when they will be shed, as well as preventing a national blackout.

"The response was certainly not to indicate that Eskom is formally planning to implement stages 5 or beyond - but merely to indicate that the necessary contingency planning is in place."

How Eskom load shedding works

Load shedding will be used under emergency conditions for limited periods.

Four schedules have been developed based on the possibility of risk and to ensure that load shedding is applied in a fair and equitable manner:

  • Stage 1 allows for up to 1000 MW of the national load to be shed.
  • Stage 2 allows for up to 2000 MW of the national load to be shed.
  • Stage 3 allows for up to 3000 MW of the national load to be shed.
  • Stage 4 allows for up to 4000 MW of the national load to be shed.

Load shedding will be implemented in most instances in 2 hour blocks.

  • However, in Eskom-supplied Johannesburg areas, blocks are 4 hours long. This is to coincide with City Power’s 4 hour schedule.

Each of the time periods has an additional 30 minutes added to allow for switching of networks in a way that will not damage the power system.

  • Most customers (those in 2 hour blocks) may therefore be without electricity for up to 2.5 hours at a time, while customers in 4 hour blocks may be without electricity for up to 4.5 hours at a time.

Eskom will begin load shedding customers at the start of the period (for example from 06:00), and will have all scheduled customers switched off within the first half hour (that is, by 06:30)

At the end of the period, after the two / four hours (that is, by 08:00 or 10:00 as applicable), Eskom will start returning power to customers and should have them all back within half an hour (that is, by 08:30 or 10:30).

The frequency of load shedding increases as higher Stages are used

  • Stage 1 requires the least amount of load shedding, 3 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 3 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.
  • Stage 2 will double the frequency of Stage 1, which means you will be scheduled for load shedding 6 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 6 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time Stage 3 will increase the frequency of Stage 2 by 50%, which means you will be scheduled for load shedding 9 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 9 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.
  • Stage 4 will double the frequency of Stage 2, which means you will be scheduled for load shedding 12 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 12 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.

If more load needs to be shed than has been scheduled in Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 then National Control will instruct additional, unscheduled load shedding. This means you may be shed outside of your scheduled times.

The actual stage in use at the time will be displayed on the main Eskom website and on the home page of the Load Shedding Website, as well as on the MyEskom App.

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