Stage 6 Loadshedding Imminent in South Africa Amid Violent Labour Protest Action and Coal Shortage

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  • The CEO of South Africa’s energy utility said that the implementation of Stage 6 loadshedding this evening was a very real risk amid labour protests, coal supply problems plus planned and unplanned maintenance of power generation plants.
  • Load-shedding stages depend on the extent of the shortage of generation capacity to meet the country’s electricity demand, with stage 1 being the least serious, and stage 8 being the most serious. 
  • Eskom’s CEO, Mr Andre de Ruyter was speaking this morning during hastily called virtual media briefing.
  • He stated that he and his team were hampered in restoring generation by labour protestors who restricted access to power stations by blocking roads, intimidating workers and torching vehicles.

De Ruyter said that they had lost ten more units and suffered 5622 MW partial losses and load loss of 14 204 MW. Associated loss occurred due to the unavailability of coal and labour related protests, which took away another 3661 MW of capacity, he said. Eskom has a total generation capacity of 44000MW which means that more than half of the country’s generation capacity is out of service.

“We find ourselves in stage 4 load shedding already with the possibility of a significant deterioration overnight. Because 10 generation units have been lost, it may become necessary to implement stage 6 load shedding at peak tonight,” said De Ruyter.

Related news: Eskom is regularly plagued by acts of sabotage at their power plants

“This situation creates substantial risk. We want to restore 4000 MW back to service by this afternoon. If we restore that, we could avert Stage 6. But the risk is there and we are therefore communicating with the public,” De Ruyter added.

Ekom COO Jan Oberholzer said that, with appropriate responses, Eskom could avoid stage 6 load shedding on Tuesday evening and remain on stage 4. “Stage 6 is not confirmed as we speak for Tuesday night”, he said.

If Stage 6 is implemented for a 24-hour period, most people will find themselves without power for six hours on that day, Oberholzer added, though that may be split into blocks of two hours.

Eskom acting head of generation Rhulani Mathebula said if employees returned to duty soon, the entity would be able to restore the majority of the capacity which has been lost. “Until then skeleton staff were working to bring units back to full swing,” said Mathebula.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa is demanding a 12% wage increase, while the National Union of Mineworkers has demands ranging between 8% and 10% and Solidarity is demanding 5.9%.

Eskom recently upped their offer to 5%. The utility maintains it cannot afford double digit increases. The average salary for Eskom employees in South Africa is R473,873 per year. Read more

Eskom recorded debt of R392.1 billion in 2021 and incurred R16.6 billion in finance costs to service the debt. Read more

Listen to the full recording of the virtual briefing HERE

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

South Africa’s power generation crisis and how it can be overcome will be hot topics at RENPOWER Southern Africa happening next week in Cape Town.


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