Stage six load shedding to continue indefinitely

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, says Stage 6 load shedding will continue indefinitely as the system continues to be under significant strain.

Ramokgopa was speaking during a media briefing on Friday, where he gave an update on the implementation of South Africa’s Energy Action Plan.

The Minister told media that Eskom experienced unplanned outages of about 18 000MW.

“Just this morning, Eskom generation experienced unplanned outages… so collectively, the unplanned outages were sitting at about 18 000 megawatts.

“This is significant. It undermines our ability to maintain load shedding at the lower stages. In addition, we know that there has been several units that are responsible for this kind of poor performance,” he said.

The Minister said that on Monday, when Eskom was trying to retain one of the two units that were out of operation in Kriel, the operation in this exercise resulted in the four operating units being taken out, “essentially increasing unplanned outages”.

The Minister said that there are still units at Tutuka, Lethabo and Medupi power stations that are still offline.

Ramokgopa said that central to the resolution of the load shedding problem is government’s ability to ensure an improvement the energy availability sector.

“This unplanned outage resulted with Eskom being forced to implement Stage 6 as Eskom’s communication has been saying that Stage 6 is there indefinitely.

“There are additional measures that we are taking in addition to load shedding which is an instrument that is used to protect the grid and ensure that the country remains within the acceptable band of frequency so that demand doesn’t far exceed supply,” the Minister said.

With the winter period fast approaching, Ramokgopa said the demand is increasing significantly, resulting in a need for government to ensure that it “remains true to these efforts, while making everything possible to accelerate these measures”.

The Minister acknowledged that this is a particularly trying period for South Africans in the history of the country.

“We’re alive to that and we are doing everything possible to ensure that we address the situation,” he said.

Ramokgopa said that Eskom remains on track to ensure that it is able to return three units at Kusile by December. Cumulatively, he said these units should give us off 2 100 megawatts.

“We are not necessarily seeing the results directly because we’re still in the higher stages of load shedding, but we want to give you the comfort and the assurance that we’re doing everything possible to address the situation… I want to give assurance to the country that it is highly unlikely that we will be in a situation where we experience a blackout,” he said.

Outlining the current progress since the last update, Ramokgopa announced that Eskom has opened applications for the Distribution Demand Management Programme, which provides a financial incentive for demand reduction by commercial and residential customers.

Ramokgopa said the demand-side intervention are going to be a focal point as we enter into December because the initiative at the household level are cheaper and faster. He said for every megawatt, there is an incentive of R3 million.

As part of the NECECOM initiatives going into the winter period, the Minister announced that NERSA will hold public hearings on Ministerial determinations for three key NECECOM initiatives on 19 May 2023.

Load shedding and agriculture sector

Ramokgopa announced that the Land Bank has established a R2.5 billion fund for farmers to invest in alternative energy solutions to support energy security.

This comes after the Minister shared last week that load shedding is placing a lot of pressure on the primary production in this country in the agricultural sector.

He said that the sector shared with him that 23% of the production is based on activities that requires the supply of reliable and quality energy.

“Hopefully we will be able to pass on those savings to the end consumer so that we undermine the inflationary pressures that are associated with increased cost of production. And this is a blended facility a mix of both grants and loans, so that we make it possible that we are able to address the situation, the pressure that is faced by the farming community in the country. The grant component ranges from about 30% to 70%.

“So you can see that we really are trying every effort to make sure that we relieve this pressure on behalf in this instance, on farmers,” he said.

Minister Ramokgopa further announced that National Treasury is finalising adjustments to the Loan Guarantee Scheme to establish an Energy Bounce Back Scheme, which will be launched shortly.

This will provide first-loss funding for solar-related loans as well as for leasing of solar equipment to small businesses affected by the rolling blackouts.

Source: South African Government News Agency