Eskom customers in South Africa are enduring yet another round of load shedding this week.
The beleaguered public utility, seeking a bailout for its massive debt and caught up in South Africa’s “state capture” corruption drama, started cutting power to customers again on a rotating basis.
On Monday, Stage 4 cuts were scheduled until 11 p.m. local time with Stage 2 overnight. At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Stage 4 cuts return.
“Eskom’s maintenance teams are working round the clock to return generation units to the electricity system,” the company said in its statement.
The stages correspond to the amount of power cuts involved. Stage 2 means 2,000 megawatts, while Stage 4 means 4,000 MW must be cut. “Load shedding is a highly controlled process, implemented to protect the system and to prevent a total collapse of the system or a national blackout,” the company said. “During Stage 4 load shedding, approximately 80 percent of the country’s demand is still being met.”
That’s not any comfort to residents of northern Johannesburg who spent much of Monday without electricity. Eskom said a high-voltage line feeding to the city’s power company tripped and caused a major power outage, but customers are increasingly cynical about the real reason there’s no power.
There are many, including the price and reliability of coal, and the maintenance of Eskom infrastructure.
“It is clear that greater urgency needs to be applied to acquire equipment necessary for urgent maintenance,” said Pravin Gordhan, minister for public works. “We agree with South Africans that the continuation of frequent load shedding, and in particular stage four load shedding, is unacceptable and disruptive to our economy.”