Avatar photo

By Nicholas Zaal

Digital Journalist

‘We have overcommitted our reserves’ – Ramokgopa on reason for stage 6 load shedding

Eskom's Bheki Nxumalo said air conditioners being used during the heatwave may be a reasons for increased demand.

Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has said while there had been a few units at power stations failing this week, the main reason for implementing stage 6 load shedding was because Eskom had overcommitted its reserves and, in accordance with the Unplanned Capacity Loss Factor (UCLF), needed to draw from the grid to replenish its reserves now.

He apologised to South Africans during a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday, where Eskom group executive for generation, Bheki Nxumalo, later added that demand for electricity had spiked since Thursday and this was another reason for stage 6.

ALSO READ: A real Black Friday: Eskom gifts SA with stage 6 load shedding

The UCLF is at about 15 300 megawatts, the minister said. He added this figure was not out of the norm, but reserves needed to be replenished.

“We have overcommitted our reserves so for purposes of protecting the grid, we need to ensure we continue to protect the reserves so we will not engage them at heightened intensity,” Ramokgopa said.

This means not using the 4 600 megawatts in emergency reserves. Instead, Eskom would replenish its reserves by drawing from the grid. It also plans to “accelerate the return of the units that have gone out”.

Currently, these include Duvha (unit four), Majuba (unit three) and Lethabo (unit six).

Increase in demand

Nxumalo later added that demand had also increased.

“At 15 000 [megawatts] we should not be at stage 6… but today the demand went up compared to yesterday, continuously above by 1 500 [megawatts], so that is really what caused us to [go to stage 6],” he said.

Nxumalo said air conditioners used in the heatwave gripping most of the country, may be one of the reasons for increased demand.

This increase in demand, in conjunction with units going down due to boiler leaks specifically, has hit the utility hard. But the pair said Eskom plans to ramp up maintenance.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Eskom losing thousands of megawatts due to lack of maintenance

‘Unwelcome and extraordinary event’

Ramokgopa called implementing stage 6 an “unwelcome and extraordinary event that acutely undermines the economy, and disrupts people’s daily experiences”.

“Load shedding by definition is an unwelcome event and something we should frown upon and that is why the president has taken significant steps to ensure that we have focused attention and an intervention, of course guided by the Energy Action Plan, for us to resolve the challenges of load shedding,” Ramokgopa said.

ALSO READ: Here’s how often the light will now be off under City Power’s load shedding schedule