CSIR senior researcher Monique le Roux and other experts said Eskom had exceeded stage 6 load-shedding this year, despite the power utility vehemently denying it.
Eskom uses three instruments to reduce electricity demand – load reduction, load curtailment, and load-shedding.
The three instruments are all a form of load-shedding, resulting in power cuts or reduced electricity supply to certain areas.
- Load curtailment – Eskom asks its biggest clients to reduce their electricity usage. Some customers can reduce their power use by up to 20% to provide Eskom with breathing room.
- Load-shedding – A controlled process where electricity is cut in parts of the country for specific periods during the day.
- Load Reduction – Power is switched off in areas with high instances of electricity theft and where illegal connections cause overloading and damage infrastructure.
Eskom stopped detailed load reduction reporting, and it is, therefore, not clear how much power it cuts through this instrument.
However, Eskom posts details about its load-shedding numbers, which regularly exceeded 6,000MW and 7,000MW in recent months.
When load-shedding exceeds 6,000MW, it is stage 7 load-shedding. When it exceeds 7,000MW, it is stage 8 load-shedding.
Eskom denied exceeding stage 6 load-shedding. It explained that during these days, it implemented stage 4 load-curtailment to limit load-shedding to stage 6.
Le Roux said that although Eskom does not like it, the country is currently in stage 7 load-shedding, as up to 7,000MW of electricity is unavailable from the grid.
“Eskom seems to have a drive to avoid as much as possible to avoid announcing stage 7 load-shedding,” she said.
“Technically, we can say that we have been in stage 7 load-shedding because 7,000MW has been unavailable and unsupplied.”
The table below shows cases where Eskom exceeded 6,000MW of load-shedding, which equates to stage 7 and stage 8 load-shedding.
|Eskom stage announced
|Electricity shed (MW)
|20 February 2023
|21 February 2023
|22 February 2023
|23 February 2023
|13 April 2023
|8 May 2023
|9 May 2023
|10 May 2023
Other experts agree with Monique le Roux
Many other experts agree with Le Roux, including energy expert Adil Nchabeleng and Pick n Pay CEO Pieter Boone.
Nchabeleng echoed Le Roux’s comments that Eskom has decided not to inform the public when it exceeds stage 6 load-shedding.
He said South Africa is already experiencing much higher load-shedding stages than Eskom is reporting.
“Eskom has decided to cap its announcements at stage 6 load-shedding, avoiding announcing stage 8 or higher load-shedding,” he said.
“They are giving us the impression that everything is oscillating around stage 6, which is a lie. It is beyond stage 6 when considering the frequency of power cuts.”
“We are sitting at a minimum of 12 hours of electricity cuts on a given day, and they are blanketing out major areas.”
The Pick n Pay CEO also said parts of the country are already experiencing stage 8 load-shedding, which impacts the food supply and creates water shortages.
“I can assure you that in certain parts of the country, we are already in stage 8 load-shedding,” Boone said.
Pick n Pay told Daily Investor it has stores in parts of the country which have experienced power outages beyond the official numbers for prolonged periods.