Eskom hits stage 7 load-shedding

Eskom has hit stage 7 load-shedding for the first time this winter despite using 15 open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) to limit power cuts.

On Wednesday night, Eskom revealed that it implemented load-shedding of 6,432 megawatts (MW), which equates to stage 7.

Demand hit 34,057MW during the evening peak on Wednesday as a result of cold weather across South Africa.

However, Eskom only had 26,699MW of available generation capacity, forcing it to implement 6,432MW of load-shedding to avoid a blackout.

Eskom explained that the increased load-shedding was needed to the loss of generating units overnight. It has also not been able to replenish its emergency reserves.

Eskom clearly defines what each load-shedding stage means based on the number of megawatts it cuts.

  • Stage 1 – Up to 1,000MW cut from the national grid.
  • Stage 2 – 1,001 to 2,000MW cut from the national grid.
  • Stage 3 – 2,001 to 3,000MW cut from the national grid.
  • Stage 4 – 3,001 to 4,000MW cut from the national grid.
  • Stage 5 – 4,001 to 5,000MW cut from the national grid.
  • Stage 6 – 5,001 to 6,000MW cut from the national grid.
  • Stage 7 – 6,001 to 7,000MW cut from the national grid.
  • Stage 8 – 7,001 to 8,000MW cut from the national grid.

This is straightforward and gives everyone a good idea of the impact of load-shedding and the power cuts the country experiences.

The 6,432MW cut from the national grid on Wednesday evening, therefore, equates to stage 7 load-shedding.

Initially, Eskom’s reported load-shedding stages aligned with the definitions based on megawatts cut from the grid.

However, in recent months, the power utility started to deviate significantly from its definitions when reporting load-shedding stages.

For example, on numerous days when it cut well over 7,000MW, it reported stage 6 load-shedding. It is stage 8 load-shedding, by definition.

Energy expert Adil Nchabeleng previously said Eskom has decided not to inform the public when it exceeds stage 6 load-shedding.

“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,” he said.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland said Eskom’s systems operator receives many complaints from people about load-shedding hours longer than what is specified for stage 6.

“I know for a fact there are certain municipalities are load-shedding certain areas differently to others – you may say in a discriminatory fashion,” Yelland said.

“So, it is happening where some areas experience higher load shedding stages than what is public knowledge,” he said.

Eskom load-shedding reports

The table below shows Eskom’s load-shedding reports in July and the difference between the reported and actual stage based on its definitions.

DateReported StageLoad-sheddingTrue Stage


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