Eskom announced that load shedding will be moved to stage 4 on Tuesday.
The power utility said the sudden outage of three units at the Kendall power station – with a total capacity of 1,920MW – led to higher levels.
Phase 4 of the relief is said to begin at 10:00 on Tuesday (September 13) and continue until 05:00 on Thursday (September 15).
Speaking to the media on Monday (September 12), Eskom’s chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer said that Eskom’s grid is extremely vulnerable to outages and that any load shedding schedules can be changed at short notice.
The chief operating officer said Eskom intends to ramp up maintenance in the coming summer months, which could lead to sporadic load shedding. He added that maintenance remains a big challenge for the group as it is not seeing the expected results.
He said that as soon as some units are returned to service after maintenance, they soon break down again. He attributed the maintenance problems to a lack of the appropriate skills and experience needed to resolve the issues.
Eskom faces maintenance challenges for mill units, high pressure valves, water cooling systems, conveyors and water treatment plans – among others.
Oberholzer said Eskom desperately needed to add new capacity to the grid so it could carry out critical maintenance on its stations. The utility does not have the capacity to remove as many units as needed to perform necessary maintenance, so there are many units operating with known defects, the group said.
The group recently released its load-shedding forecast for the rest of the year, noting that it needs to keep unplanned outages below 13,000MW to minimize intermittent blackouts.
In the higher load shedding scenario, if outages remain above 14,500 MW, stage 2 load shedding will be frequent for the foreseeable future. When the power utility is unable to keep outages below 16,000 MW, load shedding at higher stages becomes the norm.
For people living in major metro areas, drop-off schedules are available here:
To access other load shedding schedules, Eskom has made them available at loadshedding.eskom.co.za.
Smartphone users can also download the EskomSePush app to receive push notifications when load shedding is implemented and when the area you are in will be shut down.
Read: A perfect storm is brewing for South Africa as load shedding intensifies