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Eskom warns of high risk of load shedding

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“We have done an extensive winter plan and review of our power system and identified the problems."

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WITH colder weather conditions expected across the country and the demand for electricity projected to increase, Eskom has warned of a high risk of load shedding this week.

Eskom said yesterday that the power system was forecasted to be tight for this week.

“The winter plan indicates a higher demand, with three days being extremely tight, with a high risk of load shedding. South Africans can make a huge difference by rallying towards the common cause of using electricity efficiently; having the collective potential of reducing demand by up to 500 MW and saving the equivalent of 1 unit at a power station,” the power utility said in a statement.

“We have done an extensive winter plan and review of our power system and identified the problems.

“While the plan gives us confidence that we may go through winter with no or limited load shedding, we are mindful of the potential of risks on a very tight power system which may result in shifts on the power system and which could result in load shedding.

“We have mapped out scenarios that show that we will implement load shedding in cases where unplanned breakdowns increase to more than 9 500 MW, delays in returning units from planned maintenance or in cases of unanticipated disruptive events,” Phakamani Hadebe, the group chief executive of Eskom, said.

According to the winter plan for last week, three days were significantly tight with high risk of load shedding.

Eskom was successful in keeping the lights on as a result of improved performance of commercial units which resulted in unplanned breakdown of around 8 500 MW. Non-commercial units between Medupi and Kusile also contributed about 1 200 MW.

“The first few days in April have given reassurance of the integrity of our plan as we managed to avoid load shedding on three days where it was forecasted due to good performance of our plant. We managed to go through periods of high demand in the evening peak without using a lot of diesel,” noted Hadebe.

Over the next two months, Eskom expects additional power from generation units that were out for planned maintenance, which is currently at about 6 000 MW and will ramp down to about 2 000 MW towards highest demand period in May. Two units that were on long-term outages at Kriel and Matla
(1 050 MW) will also be returned to service. Kusile 3 is also expected to synchronise to the grid for the first time towards the end of April. Imports from Cahora Bassa are expected to be back at full load.

“We promise to keep our customers informed about the state of our power system on a continuous basis. We also appeal to South Africans to continue using electricity sparingly as we count on getting up to 500 MW savings from demand management.”

Eskom will also implement its “Use Electricity Smartly” campaign this week.

“The aim of the campaign is to help reduce electricity usage so that we can rally together to reduce the need for load shedding.”