Eskom, the power utility, has announced that Stage 6 load shedding will be continuously in effect until further notice due to multiple breakdowns at its power stations. On Sunday, units at Arnot, Hendrina, Lethabo, and Majuba power stations as well as two units at Camden Power Station experienced malfunctions and have been taken offline for repairs. Additionally, two generating units at Lethabo Power Station were shut down due to coal shortages caused by heavy rains hindering the delivery of coal from the New Vaal Mine. The three remaining units are operating at minimum capacity and may also shut down if the coal supply constraints are not resolved. Eskom warned that further changes to load shedding stages may occur at short notice.
The current breakdowns equate to a loss of 21,243 MW of generating capacity, while 3,566 MW is out of service for planned maintenance. The return of Stage 6 load shedding, even on weekends when demand is lower and during the summer months with lower demand patterns, is causing concern. Eskom has attempted to assure the public that the supply and demand patterns will improve as the country approaches winter with less planned maintenance, but energy experts have warned that the situation may worsen.
The government’s response to the load shedding crisis has been delayed until after the Budget Speech this week. Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring the crisis a national state of disaster and announcing a new minister of electricity during his State of the Nation Address, no regulations have been put in place and no changes have been made to the cabinet. Eskom and the government have emphasized that there are no short-term solutions to the crisis. The ongoing load shedding, which has been in effect nearly permanently since September 2022, is impacting South Africans by causing businesses to fail and livelihoods to be at risk.