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We are not expecting stage 8 load shedding, but we have to have a contingency plan – Eskom

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Eskom dismissed as inaccurate a news report suggesting municipalities had been told to brace for an imminent escalation of rolling blackouts to 'Stage 8'.

Although Eskom is not expecting to roll out Stage 8 loadshedding, it said that it had to have a contingency plan in place. Picture Ian Landsberg

Johannesburg – South Africa’s electricity provider Eskom on Tuesday dismissed as inaccurate a news report  suggesting municipalities had been told to brace for an imminent escalation of rolling blackouts to “Stage 8”, saying that while there was a plan in place for such an occurrence, it was unlikely.

Eskom said in keeping with its obligations in terms of the Disaster Management Act it was required to develop contingency plans for identified major incidents.

“A severe supply constraint is one of these, for which we have plans in place,” the utility, which was forced to effect load shedding last year, suppressing electricity demand on a rotational basis to avoid overwhelming the grid  as its generation units broke down largely due to years of inadequate maintenance.

Generally, Eskom has applied “Stage 2” load shedding which involves suppressing up to 2 000 megawatts of demand, but last year it was forced to accelerate this to an unprecedented “Stage 6” as the grid came under immense pressure.

“Each stage provides for a reduction in load of approximately five percent which equates to roughly 1 000 MW at peak. Stage 8 equates to approximately an 8 000 MW deficit. The likelihood of reaching Stage 8 is low,” Eskom said on Tuesday.

The state company,  which supplies about 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity, most of it coal fired, said it did not expect to implement rolling blackouts on Tuesday, having last done so on Friday.

But it did warn that the power system was under pressure following heavy storms and rains in Mpumalanga province which had caused disruption to coal supply overnight.

“Our engineers are working on system and design changes that are required to enable us to cope with an increased risk of flooding. Should we lose some generation units during the day, we will use emergency reserves,” Eskom said.

“However, if we experience drastic changes in the system, load shedding may have to be implemented.”

African News Agency/ANA