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An incredibly important article to read, load shedding may well be a reality for us this winter.


From Business Day, full article found here.  Most important line for me: “Mr Gigaba was also at pains to point out that keeping the lights on at all costs was no longer tenable.”

SWITCH off your geyser between 5pm and 9pm, or face load shedding this winter, was the essence of the message conveyed by Eskom CEO Brian Dames and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba at their briefing on the state of the system on Monday.

While this was the message, the words “there will be load shedding” were carefully avoided by both gentlemen.

Mr Dames, after being questioned, eventually said that only if faced with a blackout — that is, an unplanned catastrophic collapse of the system — would he “drop the load.” Mr Gigaba refused to say the words: “We will not say there will be load shedding, because you want us to say it.” However, he said that unless there was drastic behaviour change from consumers, Eskom would be unable to keep the lights on and certainly could not do the job alone.

While their message might be the last thing household consumers want to hear, the reality was that it was good news for at least two reasons. First, it represented a late (but better late than never) recognition that driving the power system hard, and delaying maintenance was shortening the life of Eskom’s assets and causing increasing equipment failures.

Mr Dames said that in the coming five years, maintenance will be done at a level of 10% a year without any compromise. Further, he said, that even during the winter months nine units — a unit is anywhere between 400MW and 800MW — will be taken down, as Eskom had reached a point “where maintenance cannot be delayed any longer”.

“The country must understand that for the last five years we have managed to keep the lights on. We did this by operating our power system much harder. Now it requires substantial maintenance to maintain performance,” he said.

Mr Gigaba was also at pains to point out that keeping the lights on at all costs was no longer tenable.