Flickering Lights and Economic Strains: Eskom Announces Load Shedding Plans Amidst Colder Weather

South Africa’s power company, Eskom, announced an alternating load shedding schedule between stages 2 and 4 for the upcoming week. As colder temperatures sweep across the country, increasing the demand for electricity, the struggle to maintain sufficient power supply continues.

Sporadic Power Outages Expected

Beginning at 16h00 on Sunday (30 July), stage 4 load shedding will persist until 05h00 on Monday. Subsequently, the cycle will switch to stage 2 load shedding from 05h00 until 16h00. This fluctuating pattern will remain in effect daily until further notice. Eskom promises to provide any significant updates should the circumstances change.

Anticipated Load Shedding Schedule:

Sunday, 30 July

  • Stage 2: until 16h00
  • Stage 4: 16h00 to 00h00

Monday, 31 July

  • Stage 4: 00h00 to 05h00
  • Stage 2: 05h00 to 16h00
  • Stage 4: 16h00 to 05h00

The cycle repeats until a new notice is issued.

Current Power Generation Challenges

Power generation breakdowns have dipped to 15,798MW while an additional 3,099MW of capacity is offline for planned maintenance. In an effort to alleviate the ongoing electricity production issues, Eskom has reintroduced generating units at multiple power stations, including Grootvlei, Kendal, Kriel, Majuba, and Medupi.

However, Eskom pointed out a hurdle that further exacerbates the existing energy crisis. It highlighted, “The delay in restoring service to a generating unit at Kendal and two units at Tutuka power stations is contributing to the current capacity constraints.”

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Eskom called on the public earlier on Sunday to manage their power consumption carefully to avoid escalating to higher stages of load shedding, a situation precipitated by the colder weather.

Economic Impact and Outlook

Load shedding continues to deliver a hefty blow to South Africa’s economy. According to the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) estimates, the frequent power cuts have stifled economic growth significantly. Lesetja Kganyago, SARB’s Governor, stated, “Had it not been for regular power outages, South Africa’s economic growth this year and the next two would have been closer to 2%.” He further disclosed that “Load shedding, having entered the South African lexicon 15 years ago, has intensified over the past two years, placing a binding constraint on growth.”

The central bank predicts a mere 0.4% growth this year and an average of about 1% over the next two years. The SARB estimates that load shedding, especially stages 3 to 6, drains between R230 million and R900 million from the economy daily. As winter bites, the persistent power challenges signal difficult times ahead for the nation’s economy and its people.