Update: Talk Radio702 reported that Eskom announced rolling black-outs would begin by 9:00 on Thursday and are expected to continue until the weekend. Eskom could not immediately be reached for comment. Moneyweb will publish regular updates as the situation develops, as well as load shedding schedules as they come available.
Load shedding “appears inevitable” today, Andrew Etzinger, Eskom spokesperson told Moneyweb early on Thursday morning.
The power utility declared a power emergency at 6:00 on Thursday morning which will see industrial customers reduce demand by 10% from 8:00, he said. That will however not be enough and power cuts to other customers seem inevitable.
Etzinger said the expected demand during the morning peak at 11:00 is 29 500MW and that is what is available. From then onwards the demand is expected to increase and the deficit during the evening peak is expected to be around 3 000MW.
Eskom’s total installed generation capacity is about 43 000MW, but the utility increases maintenance during the summer months which can take big units out of operation for long periods of time.
Seven days of continuous rain in Mpumalanga has resulted in wet coal that reduces the power station output, Etzinger said. “We are operating on tight margins and this is just further eating into the margins. Eskom has resilience towards some amount of rain, but by we have exhausted our dry coal and it also affects coal handling and opencast coal mining”.
It is unlikely that the situation will improve until the rain abates around Tuesday, although the demand naturally decreases over the weekend, which should bring some reprieve, Etzinger said.
He called on all consumers to switch off and said load shedding schedules are available at http://loadshedding.eskom.co.
This is the third time this year that Eskom has declared a power emergency, after resorting to the same measure only once before in November last year. The previous emergencies were focused on the evening peak between 18:00 and 20:00 and this is the first time it starts the day with such a significant supply deficit.
The Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) which represents Eskom’s biggest industrial clients said during the last emergency that its members cannot continue to carry the burden of the tight system alone.
Brian Dames, outgoing CEO of Eskom said last week that the system will remain tight until significant extra capacity has come online.
The first unit of Eskom’s new Medupi power station is expected to provide power to the system late this year, but Dames said one unit won’t be enough to alleviate the power shortage.