Load shedding gets political

Load shedding gets political

Political parties are calling on independent power producers in South Africa to help stabilise the electricity grid to avoid further load shedding.

Last week, Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona told the media that there was no crisis, but that rolling blackouts would be a reality for the next few months. The African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) have spoken out saying action must be taken because continuous power cutsare having a major impact on the economy.

The DA’s Mmusi Maimane says load shedding must be declared a national crisis. “Of course interventions such as load shedding become necessary when the situation is like this. It diminishes confidence of people to invest in our economy.”

The ANC’s Keith Khoza says independent power producers also need to come on board. “We need to urgently come up with legislation that would allow independent power producers to play a role in providing energy.

The power utility maintains this isn’t a crisis, because they’re averting a national blackout. The political parties say more power stations need to be completed to add to the grid. Maimane says small businesses are being forced to close due to continuous load shedding and Eskom needs to take a “World Cup approach” to speed up the construction of power stations.

“Medupi and Kusile should have been done by now, we must take an approach, like we took to the World Cup to get all projects done, freeze all bonus payments to executives and ensure that the additional power to the grid must come online immediately.”

As South Africans prepare for the summer holiday, Eskom says there will not be any disturbances caused by power cuts.

"As it stands and things don't change, the risk of load shedding is very low for today and the whole of December," the power utility said recently. "There is a low probability of load shedding today. The grid is in good shape and unless something happens, the power will be fine.”

Stage one allows for up to 1 00 0MW of the national load to be shed, stage two for up to 2 000 MW, and stage three for up to 4 000 MW.

Eskom says it will assist municipalities affected by water shortages due to the recent power cuts. The utility has had to implement load sheddingfor several weeks now due to limited generating capacity and ongoing problems at its power plants.

The Polokwane municipality has reported water shortages in some areas due to the rolling blackouts which have affected the pump storage systems. Eskom’s Andrew Etzinger says they’ll look into this.

“Under normal circumstances, water systems are designed to withstand a 24-hour power interruption so this is unusual. We’ll certainly follow up on this and we would certainly assist the municipality as far as possible to avoid water shortage.”

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