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Eskom load shedding – and what it means

Eskom has moved to Stage 4 load shedding and there will be power outages across the country from 1pm to 4pm on Monday. Citing a breakdown in generating plants on Sunday, on Monday morning, Eskom announced Stage 2 loadshedding for most of the day. But by lunchtime, things had deteriorated to the point where Eskom announced stage 4 loadshedding.

What does this mean?

  • You can expect to be loadshedding for a few hours at a time several times a week, if stage 4 continues.
  • Stage 4 means that there could be blackouts whenever Eskom deems it necessary, over and above those that are scheduled, according to EWN. You will be loadshedded 12 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 12 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time. But because things are so dire, it’s best to be prepared for the lights to go out at any time.
  •  Find your loadshedding schedule here.

Why does it matter?

  • Stage 4 is the final stage that Eskom implements before a national blackout happens.
  • The last time Eskom needed to implement stage 4 loadshedding was in the power crisis of 2008. For Eskom to jump from stage 2 loadshedding to stage 4 loadshedding in the course of a few hours suggests it lost massive generating capacity very quickly.

What’s going on?

  • Rumours of sabotage abound, although Fin24 reported that Eskom has denied that this is behind the sudden loss of power generation.
  • Some have speculated that for this to happen just days after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he would split Eskom into three separate units can be no coincidence. Unions have called his decision an act of war, but it would be unfair to blame them at this early stage.
  • Eskom would probably have less power generation problems if its new power stations, Kusile and Medupe, were up and running, as they should have been in 2008.       
  • Eskom’s precarious situation is worse than some experts thought. It has said that its units keep tripping, although the reasons are not clear.