No load shedding for the weekend

Eskom says it plans to lift the current Stage 1 load shedding on Friday evening at 21:00 and will not implement any blackouts over the weekend.

As previously communicated, Eskom suspended load shedding Stage 2 at 21:00 on Thursday night and implemented Stage 1 from 05:00 on Friday morning.

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“We do not anticipate any load shedding for the weekend, and the outlook for the [following] week is for no load shedding [which will be] driven, among other things, by lower ambient temperatures which reduces our vacuum load losses,” said Eskom’s CEO, André de Ruyter during a media briefing on Friday.

“But that is of course subject to the proviso that we don’t lose major units which will cause a lack of generation capacity.”

Although South Africans will get to enjoy a lit weekend, the power utility says that a number of its units tripped overnight. The units include Matimba 1, Tutuka 4, Koeberg 3 and Majuba 2, 5 and 6.

Matimba 1 and Majuba 2 and 6 have since returned to service, however the other units remain unreliable, especially Tutuka 4.

According to De Ruyter, the demand forecast for this evening is 26 747MW at 19:00 and with load shedding Stage 1 in place, the power utility should be able to meet it.

Eskom has planned capacity outages to the tune of 3 345 megawatts (MW) and is currently facing 14 776MW of unplanned load losses.

De Ruyter mentioned yet again in the briefing that a tower collapsed onto one of the main distribution lines at Lethabo Power Station on Wednesday night. This resulted in the tripping of the line as there were indications of cutting of the stay sets.

“The line is a high-capacity. It’s an 88 KV line and the stays that were cut are galvanised steel rods, 24 millimetres in diameter … these are very sturdy rods.

“The perpetrators cut all eight stays. There is no sign of corrosion [and] no sign of metal fatigue. There was no shearing of these stays and there’s clear evidence that there was some cutting incident.

“[There was an] instrument involved, whether that is a hacksaw or angle grinder. But what arouses further suspicion that this was a deliberate act of sabotage, [is that] nothing was stolen from the site, so the stays were cut and the tower was pushed over onto the other line.”

De Ruyter went on to name the sabotage an economic crime. He insisted that this was an active act of sabotage and should therefore be labelled as such.

“Now the consequences of this happening are of course quite significant. This means that if we had lost power supply to those conveyor belts feeding coal to Lethabo, we would have run out of coal at the power station for up to six hours. That is the capacity of the bunkers at the power station. This would then have caused us to lose our most reliable units at this point in time, a loss of about 3600MW,” he said.

De Ruyter added that these acts would have led to a load shedding level higher than Stage 6.

He warned the perpetrators that the matter has already been reported to the Hawks and there are talks that it will be assisting the utility with investigations.

“At this stage we have no indication who the potential perpetrators could be,” he added.