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Eskom: Sorry, but load shedding is here to stay

This spate of power cuts is the worst the country has experienced since the 2008 crisis .

Eskom CEO, Tshediso Matona, updates media on status of load shedding, looking ahead to the festive season. Picture: Reinart Toerein/EWN.
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Local Business

JOHANNESBURG – Eskom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tshediso Matona says load shedding is here to stay, at least for the next few months as the utility tries to stabilise an extremely constrained system.

The country experienced load shedding for a third consecutive weekend and again this morning, because certain units which were undergoing maintenance have not come back online.

Matona earlier explained the current state of the power system and what to expect over the next few weeks.

He said the past few years has seen poor quality of maintenance at power plants which has resulted in difficulties.

“Over the years, in an environment of strained capacity, we have delayed critical maintenance because we wanted to keep the lights on.”

Matona said diesel reserves are expected to start running low from Thursday, meaning there willbe a high risk of load shedding again this weekend.

There's a low risk over Christmas, and a medium risk for most of January, but South Africans can expect regular rolling blackouts come February and March as the system will again be severely constrained.

This spate of power cuts is the worst the country has experienced since the 2008 crisis which saw rolling blackouts implemented for months.

But Matona said Eskom is in a better situation compared to 2008 to manage the challenges.

Matona said South Africans must have confidence in the utility's ability to avoid a national blackout.

The Eskom CEO said there should not be any concerns about a national blackout at this stage.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near a blackout for the country. The nation should have confidence in Eskom to be able to prevent national blackouts.”

POOR PLANNING TO BLAME

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says load shedding will remain a reality until power plants countrywide undergo thorough maintenance.

Brown said the country's power grid will only stabilise once all plants are taken off the grid and undergo rigorous maintenance.

“We will have load shedding for another two years.”

But there is a glimmer of hope. Brown explains the crisis should abate once the Medupi and Kusile power stations come online.

“We will breathe a bit better when Medupi comes online and then eventually when Kusile comes online, We are not out of the woods, not by a far chance.”

The minister reiterated poor planning over the past decade has resulted in the country's energy crisis.

At the same time, the latest spate of load shedding is now threatening to affect cellphone signal in the country, putting extra pressure on reserve batteries at cellphone towers.

Vodacom spokesperson Richard Boorman says it’s affecting cellphone companies that are trying to ensure that cellphone signal continues running.

WINE QUALITY THREATENED

Load shedding could affect the quality of wine this festive season.

Widespread load shedding has caused harvesting to take a knock in the wine market.

Manager at Bosman Family Vineyards, Corlea Fourie, says this time of the year is essential for winemakers.

She says the end of season bottling is halted by load shedding if there are no generators

Click here to view Eskom’s load shedding schedule.

Click here for an interactive map of the load shedding schedule in Cape Town.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)



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