What’s up with load shedding?

Henry

The recent decline in load shedding has residents and businesses asking: Does the government finally have control over load shedding? Unfortunately, the answer is “no”.

So says Kevin Mileham, the DA’s shadow minister for mineral resources and energy and Samantha Graham-Maré, the DA’s shadow minister for electricity.

“There is a growing suspicion that Eskom has suspended maintenance for a temporary boost in power generation. But is it a short-term fix or part of the long-term plan? South Africans need answers.”

Despite assurances, Eskom’s energy availability factor, the percentage of electricity generated compared to overall capacity, remains below 60%. “Their underperforming coal fleet and lack of transparency instills mistrust.”

A decrease in demand and spending in private power generation has narrowed the gap between supply and demand, but this is unsustainable and any sudden changes could lead to a rapid return to phase 6 or higher load shedding, say Mileham and Graham-Maré. “We need transparency from Eskom, the Department of Energy and the Department of Public Enterprises. It is essential that Eskom, the two departments and the national power crisis committee (Necom) follow a transparent approach in South Africa.”

The DA states that the country must be regularly informed of the following:

  • the extent of (i) planned and (ii) unplanned power outages at Eskom;
  • the capacity and fuel costs in terms of plants and
  • the amount of electricity procured from neighboring countries, including the source of the electricity and whether it is in addition to previous procurement contracts.

“It is clear that the government must quickly update the integrated resources plan, which serves as South Africa’s electricity roadmap. This plan guides the government’s decisions on when, where and how to invest in power generation and transmission.”

The current version, which was last updated in 2019, quickly became outdated due to faulty assumptions, especially regarding Eskom’s energy availability factor.

“Minister Gwede Mantashe, responsible for this task, must be held accountable for the overdue update. It is increasingly clear that South Africa cannot rely on the government alone to solve the power crisis. The unreliable and contradictory information being presented is worrying.”

The DA will continue to pursue an accelerated integrated resources plan that tackles the country’s electricity needs, paves the way for independent power providers on the grid, and promotes self-generation projects to ease demand.

“Urgent attention must be given to upgrading the grid infrastructure to improve access for independent power producers to ensure improved stability and load balancing.”

The DA calls on the three ministers, Gwen Ramokgopa, Gwede Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan, to appear before an urgent joint parliamentary committee and explain to the people of South Africa what the ongoing efforts are, who the responsible parties are, and what are the expected outcomes beyond short-term load shedding relief measures.

“We cannot allow a self-inflicted crisis to give the government unlimited power to enter into contracts and speed up legislation without proper oversight and accountability. South Africa cannot allow rogue activities masquerading as emergency measures that undermine our path to energy security.”