Stage 2 load shedding is expected to continue until the morning of Monday, February 7, says Eskom.
Group CEO André De Ruyter told a media conference on Wednesday that “the extended period of stage 2 load shedding” is being undertaken to also replenish “significantly depleted reserves of both diesel and water” at Eskom’s bunk storage facilities.
He reiterated Eskom’s earlier statement, saying that the load shedding has been “necessitated by the breakdown of a number of generation units and the late return of other units that have been under planned maintenance”.
Two more Eskom generating units failed on Tuesday night, adding further strain to generation capacity.
Eskom issued a power alert late on Tuesday, asking consumers to use electricity sparingly, adding that boiler tube leaks and unit trips at some of its generating units are contributing to power supply constraints.
The utility says it is currently experiencing total breakdowns of 14 994 megawatts (MW) while planned maintenance is 4 435 MW of capacity.
In the briefing on Wednesday, Eskom pointed out that Duvha, Tutuka, Kendal and Kusilie are the main power stations giving the utility sleepless nights.
“These are the four stations that’s really making it difficult for us to supply the demand of the country from a capacity point of view,” said Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer.
“At two [Duvha and Tutuka ] of these power stations we [only] have three units running so that not good. At Tutuka we have the ability to run six units but we only have three, at Duvha we have the ability to run five but we only have three.”
Recognising its mandate to support the economy, Eskom officials said they hope to see its systems improve and return online before Monday, but this will depend on the levels of its reserves.
“There’s a possibility that we may lift it [load shedding], however, that will depend on the return to service of the units,” Oberholzer said.
“But more importantly, [we need] to make sure that on Monday morning we start with full dams and diesel tank levels have recovered”
However, Oberholzer stressed that the risk for load shedding to persist until the end of March remains, should power generation constraints continue.