It looks fairly likely that load-shedding will be implemented unless the country manages to drastically reduce its power consumption.
The reason given is that Eskom’s reserve margin – the surplus of electricity supply over demand – has sunk to dangerously low levels.
The reserve margin is now in the low hundreds and Eskom has called on its customers to scale back consumption by 10% during peak periods.
Eksom spokesman Andre Etzinger said that as industry started operating this week after the long break, demand had picked up about 350MW more than forecast. But there were plans to deal with contingencies, including agreements with large industrial customers to cut back on demand and operating power stations at a higher level of output for brief periods.
“The electricity demand has certainly increased steadily as the manufacturing sector comes back to full production following the school holidays,” Etzinger said. “Our system at the moment is exceptionally tight.
Maintenance is causing supply issues
“These tight conditions will prevail for the next two months because of the large amount of maintenance that we are doing at the moment.”
The reason for the heightened pressure on supply, which would last throughout the summer, was that Eskom had embarked on a maintenance programme, taking about 5 500MW out of the system at any one time.
During the winter months about 2 000MW would be taken out of the system.
In November, the power utility declared an emergency when it exhausted its reserve of electricity supply and had to ask large industrial users to reduce their consumption.
Etzinger said Eskom had a schedule for how load shedding would take place in a fair and equitable way as possible, should it be necessary. The schedule is available on the company’s website.