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.”
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.
|Date||Stage announced||Load-shedding||Actual stage|
|01-Jun-23||Stage 6||6,684 MW||Stage 7|
|02-Jun-23||Stage 4||3,967 MW||Stage 4|
|03-Jun-23||Stage 4||3,978 MW||Stage 4|
|05-Jun-23||Stage 4||4,553 MW||Stage 5|
|06-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,271 MW||Stage 4|
|07-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,136 MW||Stage 4|
|08-Jun-23||Stage 3||2,939 MW||Stage 3|
|09-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,060 MW||Stage 4|
|10-Jun-23||Stage 4||4,091 MW||Stage 5|
|11-Jun-23||Stage 4||3,905MW||Stage 4|
|12-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,146 MW||Stage 4|
|13-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,252 MW||Stage 4|
|14-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,123 MW||Stage 4|
|15-Jun-23||Stage 3||2,949 MW||Stage 3|
|16-Jun-23||Stage 3||2,912 MW||Stage 3|
|17-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,000 MW||Stage 3|
|18-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,052 MW||Stage 4|
|19-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,161 MW||Stage 4|
|20-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,302 MW||Stage 4|
|21-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,397 MW||Stage 4|
|22-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,258 MW||Stage 4|
|23-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,041 MW||Stage 4|
|24-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,044 MW||Stage 4|
|25-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,108 MW||Stage 4|
|27-Jun-23||Stage 3||3,218 MW||Stage 4|
|01-Jul-23||Stage 3||3,032 MW||Stage 4|
|02-Jul-23||Stage 3||3,184 MW||Stage 4|
|03-Jul-23||Stage 3||3,379 MW||Stage 4|
|04-Jul-23||Stage 3||3,276 MW||Stage 4|
|06-Jul-23||Stage 3||3,369 MW||Stage 4|
|08-Jul-23||Stage 3||2,708 MW||Stage 3|
|09-Jul-23||Stage 3||3,054 MW||Stage 4|
|10-Jul-23||Stage 4||3,771 MW||Stage 4|
|11-Jul-23||Stage 4||4,082 MW||Stage 5|
|12-Jul-23||Stage 6||6,432 MW||Stage 7|