The Eskom Paradox: Beyond Stage 6 and Into Uncharted Waters

As winter’s cold grip tightens, South Africans are finding themselves in a chillingly familiar scenario. Eskom, the national power supplier, has a clear message: the load-shedding woes aren’t over.

Brace for Darker Nights Eskom recently turned up the alarm, signaling the potential for even more severe stages of load-shedding. This request arises while residents are already grappling with stage 6 load-shedding – a record for this year. But what’s driving this? Simply put, the dropping temperatures.

Due to the cold weather, we appeal to all members of the public to reduce the electricity demand between 17:00 and 21:00, by switching off non-essential appliances, mainly geysers, swimming pool pumps, and electric heaters,” Eskom advised.

With Tuesday’s evening peak demand surpassing forecasts, the utility reiterated, “The reduction will continue to assist in alleviating pressure on the system and avoid higher stages of load-shedding.

Decoding Eskom’s Load-shedding Lingo

Now, if you’ve been relying on Eskom’s website to decode these stages, here’s a quick rundown:

  • One stage = Up to 1,000MW taken off the grid.
  • Stage 6 = Only 6,000MW can be removed.

But history reveals a discrepancy. Historical data indicates Eskom exceeding the 6,000MW mark. Notably, on the consecutive days of 21 and 22 February 2023, a whopping 7,045MW and 7,092MW were cut. Based on Eskom’s metrics, this would land us in the vicinity of stage 8.

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Sikonathi Mantshantsha, Eskom’s spokesperson at the time, conceded to the severity, noting, “accurate to say at that particular time last night, load-shedding was Stage 7.

Energy buffs weighed in. Chris Yelland echoed Mantshantsha, while ex-Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga ventured further, speculating stage 8.

Yet, as intrigue swirled, Eskom’s former head of generation, Thomas Conradie, firmly refuted claims of surpassing stage 6.

What’s in a Stage Anyway? This debate spotlights a larger issue. The National Rationalised Specifications (NRS) Association of South Africa’s chairman, Vally Padayachee, recently highlighted Eskom’s inconsistent adherence to its own load-shedding parameters. One stage’s scope, he detailed, could range from 800MW to a staggering 1,200MW.

As Eskom navigates this turbulent energy landscape, South Africans are urged to stay informed, conserve where possible, and brace for potentially darker nights ahead.