Eskom has refuted claims that it implemented Stage 7 load shedding without making a public announcement, despite reducing over 7,000 MW from the grid over the past two nights. This contradicts a statement made by Eskom’s spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshatsha, who confirmed that load shedding had reached Stage 7 at the time in question. The speculation arose after Eskom shed 7,045 MW and 7,092 MW from the national grid on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings during peak demand hours. Stage 1 load shedding restricts up to 1,000 MW, Stage 2 restricts up to 2,000 MW for 2 hours straight once a day, and Stage 6, currently in effect, restricts up to 6,000 MW with power cuts of up to 8 hours a day at intervals of 2 to 4 hours. Stage 7 would result in 10 hours of power cuts in a 24-hour period spread over 2 to 4 hours at a time.
However, Eskom stated that the 7,000 MW reduction seen was a combination of load shedding and load curtailment. The power utility said that it had not implemented Stage 7 load shedding, but had instead implemented Stage 4 load curtailment for qualifying industrial customers. Load curtailment, as outlined in the South African grid system operation code (NRS048-9), allows Eskom to temporarily interrupt supply to customers for efficient operation and extension of distribution and/or transmission system and in emergencies. Load curtailment is not rotated like load shedding and is enforced for the entire event period, in this case, 36 hours ending at midnight.