Eskom has again announced a sudden increase in load shedding Stages. On Thursday, load shedding jumped from Stage 3 to 4 for the weekend, then on Sunday it went to Stage 5, and now to Stage 6 which is to be implemented "until further notice".
This, despite a lower than historically usual demand because of the ever-increasing amount of own-generation by commercial, industrial and residential consumers.
Eskom says, in a press release, that it anticipates a maximum load of 28 000 MW, which is lower than the previous maximum of about 32 000 MW for this time of year.
The utility has increased the amount of generation capacity taken offline for maintenance, it says, and is facing both delays in bringing some units back online and increasing breakdowns of other units.
According to the press release, breakdowns are currently at over 16 000 MW of generating capacity while the capacity out of service for planned maintenance is almost 6000 MW.
Although Eskom has not said so, we expect that not having Koeberg's output is another setback for the power utility.
One wonders whether the big jump in the price of diesel is another contributor since we know that Eskom increased the use of its diesel-fired peaking plant extensively during the recent BRICS Summit to keep load shedding to lower Stages
Despite his assurances, it seems that our new Minister of Electricity is not improving the situation. We are, in fact, worse off than we were a year ago when de Ruyter was still here. Worse off, we say, because in the last 12 months, more distributed generation - mostly in the form of rooftop solar PV - has been added, reducing the actual demand on Eskom.
It remains a disgrace that a publically-owned entity that owns equipment capable of generating 48 000 MW, plus an industry that is generating a further 6000 MW, is unable to meet a load of 28 000 MW. Any hopes of economic recovery or a serious decrease in real unemployment figures are dashed by the unending load shedding.