Eskom is responsible for the generation, transportation and distribution of electricity in South Africa as well as other parts of the African continent. Recently, however, the power utility had to close 11 of its power plants and has now announced it will start implementing load shedding to deal with the current strain on the power grid.
Initially, Eskom implemented the Stage One load shedding, but has now stated there is a possibility of load shedding being upped eight stages.
Stage Eight load shedding would mean power cuts as long as 12 hours per day.
Speaking to Fin24, Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae said that the risk of Stages Five-Eight being instated is relatively low.
Up until now, load shedding has included only four stages, which sheds between 1 000 megawatts (MW) and 4 000 megawatts of the national load.
Stage Four would mean consumers would be without electricity for 24 hours spread across four days – a quarter of the time.
Stage Eight load shedding would see consumers being without electricity for 48 hours spread over four days, so half the time.
When load shedding takes place, municipalities cut electricity in what is known as ‘blocks’. Eskom only cuts off the electricity for customers that receive their power supply directly from the national public utility.
For now, Eskom is appealing to residents and businesses to use electricity sparingly in order to minimise the adverse effects of its dwindling coal supply on locals. Although Eskom has said it is unlikely that any more power cuts will take place this week, the festive season may bring more power outages.
Consumers have a tendency to use more electricity than usual during the festive season.
“We just ask that our customers use electricity sparingly throughout the day but more especially over the evening peak from about 5pm until 9pm in the evening. That will also help us to limit the need to load shed,” Mothae said to EWN.