Eskom: We are not heading into Stage 5 or 6

Phakamani Hadebe
Phakamani Hadebe

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Eskom: We are not heading into Stage 5 or 6. The utility said in a statement on Tuesday evening that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan had merely been answering a question about what could happen beyond Stage 4 load shedding, and his response was then reported as evidence that worse stages are being planned for and could in fact even be upon us.

The power utility claims Minister Gordhan’s explanation today about even worse load shedding stages has been misunderstood. In an apparent correction following today’s Eskom press conference, the utility has tried to reassure South Africa that load shedding is not about to get worse.

In fact, it’s probable that it will become less severe in the coming days.

However, Eskom says this isn’t the case, and Gordhan’s explanation was merely meant to indicate that the utility would be able to keep the grid alive even if its generating capacity gets worse (which they claim may not happen).

Phakamani Hadebe

Load shedding has never gone beyond Stage 4 before. Andrew Etzinger, senior manager at Eskom, told EWN that he expects that the rolling blackouts will actually be scaled back in coming days.

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At a press conference to brief South Africans on the sorry state of affairs the struggling Eskom has found itself in, a statement from Gordhan that there were plans in place to implement stages 5 and 6 of load shedding in a bid to stave off a nationwide blackout took many South Africans by surprise.

An article on Fin24 alleged that it was now clear that stages 5 and 6 were being planned for and that Gordhan had been forced to backtrack from his assertion at a previous briefing that government was committed to ensuring load shedding didn’t go beyond Stage 4.

The fact that stages 5 and 6 exist as possibilities have, however, been public knowledge since November last year. In fact, Stage 7 and Stage 8 exist too.

Eskom announced at the time that it had extended its load shedding regime from four stages – which allow up to 4,000 megawatts (MW) of demand to be shed – to eight stages, which would provide for up to 8,000 MW to be shed.

Stage 8 load shedding could leave a specific consumer without power for six or seven out of the 12 load shedding slots per day. Each slot is two and a half hours long, with consecutive slots overlapping by half an hour.

That means Stage 8 could bring more than 12-hour power cuts per day to any group of consumers, Moneyweb reported last year, adding that according to Eskom this was “a necessary precaution” to avoid a blackout if the situation gets serious enough.

Now, it seems that some South Africans are learning that the possibility of load shedding escalating to stages 5 and 6 for the first time ever is on the table.

Source: The Citizen

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