Eskom sees a “very real risk” in having to implement level 6 power outages by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday after 10 generating units went offline overnight.
Eskom has the power outages at level 4, requiring an increase to 4,000 megawatts to be pulled from the national grid late last week after labor protests related to deadlocked wage negotiations. In phase 6, 6,000 MW will have to be taken off the grid.
The utility plans to meet again with union leaders on Tuesday to try to resolve issues related to the strike , Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said.
Eskom only conducted level 6 power outages once in December 2019, COO Jan Oberholzer said.
Some Eskom employees stepped in afterwards last Tuesday an unprotected strike standstill in wage negotiations. On Friday, Eskom was granted a court order ending unprotected strikes at nine power plants and facilities. Incidents of intimidation of employees and blocking of roads to power plants and facilities were reported.
The consequence was load shedding ramped up to level 4 on Friday and Eskom said it would last until Wednesday. However, the utility previously warned that the load-shedding phase could be increased or decreased in the short-term.
Johannesburg’s City Power warned Monday that the recently ramped-up load-shedding came at a time when it was already due to surge capacity demand due to cold weather while battling rampant cable theft and illicit connections.
“Load shedding has unwanted infrastructure impacts that were never inherently intended to switch on and off at short intervals, and comes with additional financial pressures that we didn’t anticipate.”
“Alongside the lost revenue during load shedding, we are also being forced to withdraw technicians and operators from vacation, and many are already tired. We are also forced to split our resources between servicing outage calls and responding to load shedding cycles on and off every 2 hours. With surge currents, multiple cable faults, vandalism, cold weather overload are the causes of trips in most areas, particularly after load shedding recoveries.”
City Power said outage calls hovered over 3,000 over the weekend. As of 5 p.m. Monday afternoon, just over 4,770 outage calls were being processed, with more than 2,000 within 24 hours. Most calls came from the Hursthill area at over 1,700, followed by Lenasia (+850) and Randburg (+750). dire situation,” the entity said. From Friday to Monday morning, City Power had 26 cable thefts.
“Cables repaired after cable theft are also prone to failure during load shedding as they have been weakened over time,” it added.
The scenario is becoming more bleak in the longer term, the entity signaled.
“We do not perform scheduled maintenance during load shedding for security reasons. So the longer it drags on, the more problems we will have in the future. Also, our mostly aging infrastructure cannot be ignored, and its wear and tear increases every time we cycle it on and off at short intervals.”
City Power said consumers could help reduce inrush current by they severely shut down devices during load shedding. These include geysers, pool pumps, heaters, furnaces. “These may be gradually turned back on a few minutes after the restoration.”
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