Truth about Eskom load-shedding revealed

Power cuts across South Africa are significantly worse than Eskom’s officially reported load-shedding stages suggest.

An analysis by Daily Investor revealed that on 74% of days in June and July, Eskom’s load-shedding exceeded the officially reported stage.

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

Up to 1,000MW cut from the national grid equals stage 1, up to 2,000MW equals stage 2, up to 3,000MW equals stage 3, and so on.

These straightforward definitions give everyone a good idea of how much power is cut from the grid and the impact on the economy.

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

However, in recent years, 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.

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

Eskom explained that load-shedding was split into “load-shedding” and “load curtailment”, which is why the load-shedding stages and megawatts cut from the grid don’t align.

Many experts dispute this view, saying there are political motives behind Eskom’s drive to report the lowest-possible load-shedding stage.

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

“Eskom has made a decision to cap its announcements at stage 6 load-shedding, avoiding announcing stage 8 or higher load-shedding,” he said.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland said Eskom’s systems operator is receiving 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.

CSIR senior researcher Monique le Roux also argued that Eskom had exceeded stage 6 load-shedding this year, despite the power utility vehemently denying it.

Le Roux said that although Eskom does not like it, the country was in stage 7 load-shedding when up to 7,000MW of electricity is unavailable from the grid.

“Eskom seems to have a drive to avoid as much as possible 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.”

Eskom load-shedding

The table below shows the official load-shedding stage Eskom reported, how much power was cut from the grid, and what stage it is using the official definition.

DateStage announcedLoad-sheddingActual stage
01-Jun-23Stage 66,684 MWStage 7
02-Jun-23Stage 43,967 MWStage 4
03-Jun-23Stage 43,978 MWStage 4
05-Jun-23Stage 44,553 MWStage 5
06-Jun-23Stage 33,271 MWStage 4
07-Jun-23Stage 33,136 MWStage 4
08-Jun-23Stage 32,939 MWStage 3
09-Jun-23Stage 33,060 MWStage 4
10-Jun-23Stage 44,091 MWStage 5
11-Jun-23Stage 43,905MWStage 4
12-Jun-23Stage 33,146 MWStage 4
13-Jun-23Stage 33,252 MWStage 4
14-Jun-23Stage 33,123 MWStage 4
15-Jun-23Stage 32,949 MWStage 3
16-Jun-23Stage 32,912 MWStage 3
17-Jun-23Stage 33,000 MWStage 3
18-Jun-23Stage 33,052 MWStage 4
19-Jun-23Stage 33,161 MWStage 4
20-Jun-23Stage 33,302 MWStage 4
21-Jun-23Stage 33,397 MWStage 4
22-Jun-23Stage 33,258 MWStage 4
23-Jun-23Stage 33,041 MWStage 4
24-Jun-23Stage 33,044 MWStage 4
25-Jun-23Stage 33,108 MWStage 4
27-Jun-23Stage 33,218 MWStage 4
01-Jul-23Stage 33,032 MWStage 4
02-Jul-23Stage 33,184 MWStage 4
03-Jul-23Stage 33,379 MWStage 4
04-Jul-23Stage 33,276 MWStage 4
06-Jul-23Stage 33,369 MWStage 4
08-Jul-23Stage 32,708 MWStage 3
09-Jul-23Stage 33,054 MWStage 4
10-Jul-23Stage 43,771 MWStage 4
11-Jul-23Stage 44,082 MWStage 5
12-Jul-23Stage 66,432 MWStage 7


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